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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Culture:English or French
Date Made:1710-1720
Type:Lighting Device
Materials:base metal: paktong
Place Made:United Kingdom; England or France
Measurements:overall: 7 x 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.; 17.78 x 11.43 x 11.43 cm
Accession Number:  HD P.423/A
Credit Line:Lucius D. Potter Memorial Collection

Pair of paktong candlesticks with a molded rim over the hexagonal socket over a molded-ringed base; over an incurving collar and baluster-turned shaft with two incised bands and a molded ring; over two rounded knops; over a slightly domed foot and dished top of the octagonal four-stepped base with cut corners. An alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc perfected by the Chinese as early as 200 B.C., paktong was known in Europe in the late 16th century, but not exported in any quantity before the 18th century and then usually to England via the English East India Company. Also known in the 18th century as “tutenage” or “tooth and egg,” paktong long remained the exclusive purview of the Chinese. Europeans did not possess the technology to separate nickel from its ore until the third quarter of the 18th century; they fabricated some European paktong objects using the foreign metal in the 18th century, but most were exported from China and India. By the 1830s, German metallurgists had successfully imitated the Chinese metal, calling it German silver. This combination of metals produced a very pale, yellowish base metal suitable for casting; when freshly polished, this alloy is white in color and very similar in appearance to silver, and its durability resisted dents or scratches. In the 19th century, artisans primarily used this alloy as the base for silver-plated objects.

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