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Article: Pinchbeck (alloy)

Pinchbeck (alloy)

Definition and Origin of Pinchbeck

  • Pinchbeck is an alloy of copper and zinc that closely resembles gold in appearance.
  • It was invented in the early 18th century by Christopher Pinchbeck, a London clock- and watch-maker.
  • Pinchbeck allowed ordinary people to buy gold effect jewelry on a budget as gold was only sold in 18-carat quality at that time.
  • Pinchbeck jewelry was used in places like stagecoaches to prevent theft.
  • The original Pinchbeck was made by Christopher Pinchbeck and his descendants until the 1830s.

Misuse and Evolution of Pinchbeck

  • Dishonest jewelers passed off Pinchbeck as gold, leading to its association with cheap and tawdry imitation.
  • Over the years, the name Pinchbeck came to mean any gilt metal, depending on the dealer.
  • Pinchbeck fell out of use in the second half of the 19th century and was replaced by low-carat gold.
  • Low-carat gold became legal in 1854, providing a more affordable alternative to Pinchbeck.
  • Pinchbeck is typically composed of copper and zinc in ratios of 89% copper to 11% zinc or 93% copper to 7% zinc.

Related Alloys

  • Gilding metal is another alloy used for gilding and has a similar appearance to Pinchbeck.
  • Princes metal is a copper-zinc alloy used for imitation gold jewelry.
  • These alloys are related to Pinchbeck and have similar applications.


  • Tolkien, Tracy; Wilkinson, Henrietta (1997). A Collector's Guide to Costume Jewelry Key Styles and how to recognize them. Firefly Books. p.33. ISBN1552091562.
  • Levine, Gilbert; Vookles, Laura L (1986). The Jewelers Eye: Nineteenth-century Jewelry in the Collection of Nancy and Gilbert Levine. Hudson River Museum. p.28.
  • These references provide further information on Pinchbeck and its historical significance.

Additional Information

  • Pinchbeck is mentioned in the World Wide Words website, which provides insights into the origin and usage of the term.
  • The term 'pinchbeck' can also be found in the Chemistry Learner website, offering chemical insights into the alloy.
  • Pinchbeck is an alloy-related article stub on Wikipedia, and readers are encouraged to expand its content.
  • Pinchbeck belongs to the category of copper alloys.
  • This article is categorized as a stub, indicating that it is a brief or incomplete entry.

Pinchbeck (alloy) Data Sources

Reference URL
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