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Electroformed Bronze Bookends

15 Jul

In the past, electroformed bronze bookends have been called bronze clad or weighted bronze, but electroformed bronze is a much better term because it specifically identifies these bookends by the technique which produced them.

Photo of Electroformed bronze Indian bookends

Electroformed bronze “Mounted Indian.” Height 9″. Attributed to Armor Bronze. Note the scar on the underside of the base.

Electroformed bookends are made in several steps:

First, a sculptor produces a  full-sized model of a bookend which is then replicated in plaster or similar material,  The plaster form is then coated with carbon or other suitable material so that it can function as a cathode in an electrolytic bath.  The coated form is then suspended in a bath containing tin and copper ions and an electric current is passed through the bath.  Copper mixed with tin (bronze) is deposited on the model in a uniform coating.  At this point the model has become bronze plated, this is the same procedure for silver plating, chrome plating, or any other metal-plating operation. .

Metal-plating conventionally produces a very thin coating on an object.  For example, most Jennings Brothers bookends are made of gray metal and given a thin electroplated bronze surface. The gray metal provides the structural strength for the bookend; the bronze gives the surface.

The bookends that should be called electroformed are not given a thin coating which is  simply a surface.  These bookends are given a thick layer of bronze and this layer provides structural strength for the bookends.  Thus, the bookends are proper bronze and not simply bronze plated.  Each electroformed bookend usually shows a scar on the bolttom where a hook was placed in order to suspend the plaster form bookend in a bath.

 

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