Pinchbeck (alloy)

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Pinchbeck is a form of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, mixed in proportions so that it closely resembles gold in appearance. It was invented in the 18th century by Christopher Pinchbeck, a London clockmaker. Since gold was only sold in 18-carat quality at that time, the development of pinchbeck allowed ordinary people to buy gold 'effect' jewellery on a budget. The inventor allegedly made pinchbeck jewellery clearly labelled as such. Pinchbeck jewellery was used in places like stagecoaches where there was a risk of theft. Later dishonest jewellers passed pinchbeck off as gold; over the years it came to mean a cheap and tawdry imitation of gold. [1]

Pinchbeck is typically composed of copper and zinc in ratios of 89% copper to 11% zinc; or 93% copper to 7% zinc.[2]

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