This Golden Leaf - The Origins of Imitation Gold Leaf
There is very little written concerning the origins
of imitation gold leaf.
This material is known by various names; composition gold leaf,
Dutch gold and in Germany it is known as Schlagmetal.
I am of the opinion that it probably originated during the
It was during this time that a new middle class was emerging and creating a
demand for cheaper work.
There are many examples of 19th century gilded picture frames which employed imitation
Also the alloys used in the production of this material do not have anything like the
malleability of genuine gold, I am certain some form of mechanical or hydraulic press would be needed to
produce the leaf.
The leaf comes in a range of different alloys which creates various
No 1 Is a very deep red,
composed of an alloy of 10% zinc and 90% copper.
No 2 Is a red/gold color,
composed of an alloy of 12% zinc and 88% copper.
No2 ½ Has a color similar to
that of 22K gold leaf, an alloy composed of 15% zinc and 85% copper. This is the colour I recommend and use
No 3 Is a yellow color,
composed of an alloy of 18% zinc and 82% copper.
These alloys when combined, closely resembles
the fine appearance of genuine gold metals.
The thickness of the leaf is
approximately 0.3 microns.
Each book of this golden leaf contains 25 leaves about
5 inches square.
When genuine gold leaf is used outside it has to be
protected with a clear varnish, imitation leaf is the same, it has to be protected with a lacquer,
but this is not a problem as all the glazes and ageing processes shown on this site call for the leaf to be given a
coating of lacquer of some sort.
Both the leaf and the lacquer can be found at the
gilding supplies page.
OK, now we come to an important subject. How to handle gold leaf