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jewelry glossary

Antieke juwelen glossarium
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Pinchbeck, Christopher (1670-1732)

A London watchmaker who invented, c. 1720, pinchbeck, an alloy to imitate gold and that was named after him. He was a prominent maker of watches and clocks, as well as musical automata. He lived and worked in Clerkenwell until he opened a shop in Fleet St in 1721. He was succeeded in 1732 by his second son, Edward (1713-66). His eldest son, Christopher (1711-83), left his father's shop in 1738 and later became clock-maker to George III.


An alloy of copper and zinc (about 83 to 17) that was invented, c. 1720, by Christopher Pinchbeck. It resembled, but was much lighter than, gold and was used in making inexpensive jewelry, including watch cases, chatelaines, buckles, clasps, snuff-boxes, étuis, etc. It retained for a while a bright and unoxidized appearance. Sometimes it was covered with a wash of gold, but when some of the gilding wore off the difference in colour was barely visible. It was used in France, known there as 'pinsbeck'. It has been superseded by gilding metal and rolled gold, and also by 9-carat gold since its authorization in England in 1854.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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