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Solid Soft Brass Escutcheon Pins Good for Peening
esantoro - Friday, June 1, 2012 - 2:51pmFabrication
Introduction: I came across this site while researching different types of brass.
My name is Edward Santoro. I make leather bags and briefcases with solid brass hardware. Often I need to modify or even think about fabricating some of the solid brass parts.
Question: On my briefcases, I use solid brass locks manufactured in England. I have one method to install these locks, but am looking for another. I would like to install these locks by peening the ends of solid brass escutcheon pins. The problem is that not all of these pins are created the same. Some have combinations of copper and zinc that are harder than others.
Currently, I am able to peen my stock of solid brass pins, as long as I'm working on an open area where I can easily use a ball-peen hammer and the peened end of the pin will be covered. If the peened end will be visible, I need to achieve a more well rounded smooth dome.
I did manage once to talk to a craftsman from Hermes and asked him how he managed to get a perfect peen on the ends of these pins. He gave me a few of the escutcheon pins he uses. I noticed that these pins are a brighter gold than the pins I use. They also seem to be very resistant to tarnishing.
My recent research tells me that alpha brass is a more malleable brass with less than 35% zinc. In addition, "Prince's metal"or "Prince Rupert's metal" is a type of alpha brass containing 75% copper and 25% zinc. This alpha brass has a bright yellowish color and has been used as imitation gold. The brass escutcheon pins I received from the Hermes craftsman seem to fit this description.
Might anyone have additional information on this particular alpha brass and know where I might be able to get escutcheon pins made with this particular alloy?
My next step might be to try to fabricate my own escutcheon pins. I found the following melting guidelines in "Mackenzie's Five Thousand Receipts in All the Useful and Domestic Arts" (1831).
"Pinchbeck: Put into a crucible 5 ounces of pure copper. When it is in a state of fusion, add 1 ounce of zinc. These metals combine, forming an alloy not unlike jeweller's gold: pour it into a mold of any shape. This alloy is used for inferior jewelery." Some use only half this quantity of zinc, in which proportion the alloy is more easily worked, especially in the making of jewellery" (11-12).
"Prince's metal: Melt together 3 ounces of pure copper and 1 ounce of zinc. Alternative: Melt in a crucible 4 ounces of copper. When it is fused, add 2 ounces of zinc. They will combine and form a very beautiful and useful alloy called Prince Rupert's metal" (12).
Thanks for any insight you can give.