Genuine gilding readily takes up mercury, while imitation gilding does not or only very slowly. Any coating of varnish present should, however, be removed before conducting the test. Mercurous nitrate has no action on genuine gold, but on spurious gilding a white spot will form which quickly turns dark. A solution of neutral copper chloride does not act upon genuine gold, but on alloys containing copper a black spot will result. Gold fringe, etc., retains its luster in spirit of wine, if the gilding is genuine; if not, the gilding will burn and oxidize. Imitation gilding might be termed "snuff gilding," as in Germany it consists of dissolved brass, snuff, saltpeter, hydrochloric acid, etc., and is used for tin toys. An expert will immediately see the difference, as genuine gilding has a different, more compact pore formation and a better color. There are also some gold varnishes which are just as good.

The effect of motion while an article is receiving the deposit is most clearly seen during the operation of gilding. If a. watch dial, for instance, be placed in the gilding bath and allowed to remain for a few moments undisturbed and the solution of gold has been much worked, it is probable that the dial will acquire a dark fox-red color; but if it be quickly moved about, it instantly changes color and will sometimes even assume a pale straw color. In fact, the color of a deposit may be regulated greatly by motion of the article in the bath—a fact which the operator should study with much attention, when gilding.

The inside of a vessel is gilded by filling the vessel with the gilding solution, suspending a gold anode in the liquid, and passing the current. The lips of cream jugs and the upper parts of vessels of irregular outline are gilded by passing the current from a gold anode through a rag wetted with the gilding solution and laid upon the part.

Sometimes, when gilding the insides of mugs, tankards, etc., which are richly chased or embossed, it will be found that I the hollow parts do not receive the deposit at all, or very partially. When this is the case, the article must be rinsed and well scratch brushed, and a little more cyanide added to the solution. The anode must be slightly kept in motion and the battery power increased until the hollow surfaces are coated. Frequent scratch brushing aids the deposit to a great extent by imparting a slight film of brass to the surface.

In gilding chains, brooches, pins, rings, and other articles which have been repaired, i. e., hard soldered, sometimes, it is found that the gold will not deposit freely upon the soldered parts; when such is the case, a little extra scratch brushing applied to the part will assist the operation greatly and it has sometimes been found that dry scratch brushing for an instant—that is, without the stream of beer usually employed—renders the surface a better and more uniform conductor and consequently it will more readily receive the deposit. In fact, dry scratch brushing is very useful in many cases in which it is desirable to impart an artificial coating of brass upon an article to which silver or gold will not readily adhere. In scratch brushing without the employment of beer or some other liquid, however, great care must be taken not to continue the operation too long, as the minute particles of metal given off by the scratch brush would be likely to prove prejudicial to the health of the operator, were he to inhale them to any great extent.

The folio wing solutions are for gilding without a battery: I

In 1,000 parts of distilled water dissolve in the following order:

Crystalline sodium pyrophosphate .... 80 parts

Twelve per cent solution of hydrocyanic acid.............. 8 parts

Crystalline gold chloride.............. 2 parts

Heat to a boiling temperature, and dip the article, previously thoroughly cleaned, therein.


Dissolve in boiling distilled water, 1 part of chloride of gold and 4 parts of cyanide of potassium. Plunge the objects into this solution, while still hot, and leave them therein for several hours, keeping them attached to a copper wire or a very clean strip of zinc. They will become covered with a handsome gold coating.