What Is Ormolu?

 

Ormolu mountings are fine quality cast mounts typical of French or ‘French style’ antique furniture.  They were also used for the decorative mountings of clocks, lighting devices, and porcelain.

Ormolu (from French or moulu, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold to a mount cast in bronze. The French refer to this technique as bronze doré, which is used to this day – though the item may be merely painted with a gold-tone paint

The manufacture of ormolu employs a process known as mercury gilding or fire gilding. A solution of nitrate of mercury was applied, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object. Most mercury gilders died by the age of 40 due to exposure to the harmful mercury fumes.

This process has generally been supplanted by the electroplating of gold over a nickel substrate, which is more economical and less dangerous!

Amongst new stock this month is this Antique marquetry centre table. The inlaid floral decoration is perfectly set off by the crisp, bold ormolu mounts.

 

 

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