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I know the gentleman who processed my request. He fully understood my question and I'm 100% convinced I wasn't just 'brushed off'.


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1 hour ago, Great Dane said:

I know the gentleman who processed my request. He fully understood my question and I'm 100% convinced I wasn't just 'brushed off'.

Thanks for that confirmation, Michael. It was my last hope for a rational explanation :(

Edited by Trooper_D

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Hi, since the subject of enamel with orders is so important and because it is the focal point of this thread, I thought it beneficial to share some of my more recent research on this art whose original skill sets are passing with the wind.

Excerpted and crediting the book on Enamels by the Smithsonian Illustrated Library of Antiques and prepared by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.  Distilled.


  Enameling is an outstanding example of human skill and is a refined and sophisticated technique. It has been a craft patronized by the wealthy and for discerning collectors.  The jewel-like brilliance of its vitreous surface is durable and the colors in which it can be produced range from the bold and vivid to the subtle and pastel. 

The particular technical problems inherent in the enameling process with its need for successive firings and the fact that colors change during firing at different temperatures make the production of a really fine enameled piece something to be marveled it.  Enamellers have rivaled if not surpassed the work of the finest jewelers.

Enameling is an unpredictable art and a combination of intuition and science that demands perception as well as skill for a successful conclusion.

Enamel is a vitreous glass glaze that is fused to a metal base. The chemical constituents are silica (sand), borates, alkalis (soda and potash), alkalines (lime, magnesia, lead) and oxides of metals for coloring.  There are four4 basic types: opaque, opalescent, translucent and transparent. Production methods include: cloisonné, champlevé (raised field), basse-taille (shallow cut), guilloche (engine-turned), Plique a jour, also known as email de plique. There is also filigree and skan enameling as well as en plain (on an open field). Blue enamel is produced by cobalt. Carbonate of copper produces green, manganese produces purple, oxide of gold produces some pinks and reds.  The color is affected by the constitution of the molten glass (flux) and by the type or quantity of the oxide. The majority of enamel colors cannot be mixed to give an intermediate shade. Most of them must be prepared with their own specific oxide.

The steps, condensed:

1.      The article the enamel is applied to is washed and plunged into a diluted acid to etch the surface in order to give a good key (allover roughness) to which the enamel can adhere.  The piece is washed again.

2.      Raw enamel is pulverized with water until it is reduced to a fine power. The powder is washed multiple times in distilled water. It is dried and sifted through a fine sieve.

3.      It is applied to metal either in powdered form mixed with water and gum tragacanth or by brush or palette knife in which case it must first be mixed with a volatile oil such as spike (lavender) oil or oil of sassafras.

4.      Several layers are required to form a cover and each must be dried thoroughly then fired before the next is applied. Firing takes place in a kiln or furnace at temperatures between 600 and 850 degrees Centigrade (or 1110 to 1562 Fahrenheit). Intense white heat is essential to achieve the temperature at which enamel will fuse to metal. Firing takes only a few minutes.

5.      Rapid cooling would have a detrimental effect, creating a brittle enamel that could easily crack or scale.

6.      Different colors are fired at varying temperatures, those that can withstand the greatest heat, such as brown, blue and green, being fired first. There are multiple applications and firings. In the case of painted enamels, up to 20 firings may be needed. Each time an object is fired, great care must be taken to protect already used colors from damage caused by overfiring.  Many articles also are coated on both sides. Once the metal is enclosed between two layers of enamel, the combined substances react simultaneously, another difficult task.

7.      The enamel is filed down with carborundum until smooth, fired then polished with the finest pumice powder.


Excerpted from the book, Enameling for Beginners by Edward Winter.  Distilled.

   Raw materials for opaque white enamels will melt into liquid glass in from three and a half to four hours, smelting at 2,300 degrees F.  By changing the proportions of the ingredients, the opacity or transparency, hardness or softness of enamel is determined. These ingredients are: silica, arsenic oxide, potassium carbonate, borax and lead oxide. (Feldspar is also an ingredient).

   Focused flames are directed onto the enamel to keep it flowing freely. The molten enamel can be  poured into tanks of water to break it up into small particles called frit. Lumps of frit can be crushed into powder that will pass through an 80 or 100 mesh sieve. The powder is then shaken through a sieve onto a platform.

   Enamel is wet ground in a ball mill. A typical mixture for a small size mill would be 100 parts frit, six parts of clear clay, a fourth part of potassium carbonate and 40 cubic centimeters (about a cup) of water.  The produces a slip or slush enamel.

    When grinding is completed, the enamel is dumped, along with the porcelain grinding balls, into a large 200 mesh sieve resting on a basin. The slush enamel is then shaken through the sieve into the basin.

   Chromel steel tongs and fork can be used for placing enamel pieces in and out of the furnace.  Chromel steel trivets, fire-clay stilts and chromel wire screens support enamel pieces for firing. Enamels of unusual shape need specially designed trivets to hold them successfully.

  Gum tragacanth, a whitish vegetable gum derived from sea plants, is applied in solution form to metal surfaces to bind the dry, sifted enamel upon them before firing. The flakes should be dissolved by boiling in a basin of water. The resultant solution which should have a watery consistency, is applied with a camel’s hair brush. A few drops of alcohol will keep it from fermenting.

   Vitreous enamel is the producing of the melting together of the correct proportion of materials in a smelter that reaches a temperature of about 2,100 degrees F.

  A complete book could be written about the science of producing colors and the great assortment of subtle tones and shades which are crafted.  With most manufacturers, these formulae are guarded secrets and handed down. Color is given to the glass enamels by the addition of certain metallic oxides before the raw material batch is smelted and during this melting process the colored enamel is made.

    Liquid slush or enamel slip colors are processed differently, since colorants and oxides are added to the clear enamel frit by the manufacturer and ground up with the addition of prescribed proportions of water, fine clay and chemical salts in the porcelain ball mill.

  Enamels for steel, copper and silver are similar in so far as firing temperature is concerned, fusing after two to three minutes at 1,450 to 1,500 degrees F.


Excerpted from the book, Metalwork & Enameling by Herbert Maryon.  Distilled.


  Enamel should not be exposed to the direct blast of the flame or it may be discolored. The method is dangerous for firing small silver articles, they melt so easily. Iron scales or rust will discolor clear glass flux or frit, so the enamel must be protected against any accidental flaking of the iron support on which it is fired.

   All colors must be ground equally find and the heat of furnace needs to reach them all to the same (amount of coverage).

   In bassetaille enamel, the metal groundplate is chased or sometimes engraved in such a way that its modeled surfaces beneath the enamel form an essential part of the design. Undulating surfaces are visible through the enamel that covers them and take an important share in producing the final effect.

   If some wet, powdered enamel is to be laid down beside another patch which is still wet, care must be taken that the boundary line between them does not become irregular. The most convenient way to prevent this is to add a little gum tragacanth to each batch of enamel and to allow the first colors to dry before the next are laid alongside them. They will not then spread much on to their neighbor’s territory.

   In a bassetaille enamel, because so much of its effect depends upon the modeling of the metal beneath it, the enamel itself must have a level and well-polished surface. All depressions in the enameled surface should be filled up and refired and the surface ground level and polished.

   Any soldered joints must be protected by painting them with rouge or whiting.  For more elaborate work, it is sometimes necessary to provide a support made from plaster of Paris. The plaster is made to envelop large portions of the work, leaving exposed only those parts on which the enamel is to come. When all the soldering and cleaning up has been finished and the work is ready for the enameling, it is set up on an iron  furnace plate. Plaster of Paris is mixed in a spoon and spread over the work with a spatula. Every part may be covered with plaster except those surfaces which are to be enameled. The work may be fired again and again if necessary, but at no time must a soldered joint be left unprotected.

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On 5/20/2017 at 19:08, Great Dane said:

So apparently two different crosses despite the similarities... :o


This is REAL scary stuff!!! My mind simply cannot grasp how this is possible.

Think of what probability of these being two different pieces!

Edited by Egorka

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I'm looking for an example of this award from the 1870-90 period.


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What period would this model be from?


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Some of them are stamped on the rim. Model wise I think it stayed the same for all of its 125 year life. 1850-1975.

Maybe there were some small modification done to the crown. I can't really remember. I'll get back to you.

The first model seems had an smaller hinged crown.

Edited by Christian J

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Thanks Christian.

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