I

Gilding with quicksilver. This process of gilding, much employed formerly, is now but little used. It can be applied only to metals slightly fusible and capable of amalgamation, like silver, copper, bronze, and brass. Iron can also be gilded by this method, provided it is previously covered with a coating of copper. To perform this gilding the surface is well cleaned, and the gold amalgam, consisting of 2 parts of gold and 1 part of quicksilver, prepared as mentioned before, is applied. The piece is afterwards heated to about the red, so as to volatilize the mercury. The gold remains, superficially alloyed with the metal, and forms an extremely solid layer of deadened gold, which can be afterwards polished. The volatilization should be effected under a chimney having strong draught, in order to avoid the poisonous action of the mercurial vapors. II.—The amalgamation of gold finds its principal applications in the treatment of auriferous ores. The extraction of small spangles of gold scattered in gold-bearing sands is based on the ready dissolution of gold in quicksilver, and on the formation of an amalgam of solid gold by compression and filtering through a chamois skin, in a state more or less liquid. The spangles of gold are shaken with about their weight of quicksilver, collected in the cavities of sluices and mixed with a small quantity of sand. The gold is dissolved and the sand remains. The amalgam thus obtained is compressed in a chamois skin, so as to separate the excess of mercury which passes through the pores of the skin; or, yet again, it is filtered through a glass funnel having a very slender stem, with almost capillary termination. In both cases an amalgam of solid gold remains, which is submitted to the action of heat in a crucible or cast-iron retort, communicating with a bent-iron tube, of which the extremity, surrounded with a cloth immersed in water, is arranged above a receiver half full of water. The quicksilver is vaporized and condensed in the water. The gold remains in the retort.

The property of gold of combining readily with quicksilver is also used in many kinds of amalgamating apparatus for extraction and in the metallurgy of

In various operations it is essential to keep the quicksilver active by preserving its limpidity. For this purpose potassium cyanide and ammonium chloride are especially employed; sometimes wood ashes, carbonate of soda, hyposulphite of soda, nitrate of potash, cupric sulphate, sea salt, and lime; the latter for precipitating the soluble sulphates proceeding from the decomposition of pyrites.

The amalgamation of gold is favored by a temperature of 38° to 45° C. (100° to 113° F.), and still more by the employment of quicksilver in the nascent state. This last property is the base of the Designol process, which consists in treating auriferous or auro-argentiferous ores, first ground with sea salt, in revolving cylinders of cast iron, with iron and mercury bichloride, in such a way that the mercury precipitated collects the gold and eventually the silver more efficaciously.