, Volume 55, Issue 10, pp 16–19

Embrittlement in archaeological silver artifacts: Diagnostic and remedial techniques

  • R. Wanhill
Feature Modeling And Characterization


Archaeological silver may become brittle owing to long-term corrosion and microstructural changes. Recognition and determination of corrosion-induced and microstructurally induced embrittlement, and also their synergy, are important for artifact conservation and possible restoration. This article considers the types of embrittlement, diagnostic techniques, and remedial measures.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    F.C. Thompson and A.K. Chatterjee, “The Age-Embrittlement of Silver Coins,” Studies in Conservation, 1 (1954), pp. 115–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    A.E. Werner, “Two Problems in the Conservation of Antiquities: Corroded Lead and Brittle Silver,” Application of Science in Examination of Works of Art, ed. W.J. Young (Boston, MA: Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1965), pp. 96–104.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    R.M. Organ, “The Current Status of the Treatment of Corroded Metal Artifacts,” Corrosion and Metal Artifacts, Special Publication 479 (Washington, D.C.: National Bureau of Standards, 1977), pp. 107–142.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    M. Kallfass, J. Paul, and H. Jehn, “Investigations on the Embrittlement of an Antique Roman Silver Bowl,” Praktische Metallografie, 22 (1985), pp. 317–323.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    I.G. Ravich, “Annealing of Brittle Archaeological Silver: Microstructural and Technological Study,” Preprints of the 10th Triennial Meeting of the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation (Washington, D.C., 1993), pp. 792–795.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    R.J.H. Wanhill et al., “Damage Assessment and Preservation of an Egyptian Silver Vase (300–200 BC,” Archaeometry, 40 (1998), pp. 123–137.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    R.J.H. Wanhill, “Archaeological Silver Embrittlement: A Metallurgical Enquiry,” National Aerospace Laboratory NLR Technical Publication NLR-TP-2002-224 (Amsterdam: National Aerospace Laboratory NLR, 2002).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    F. Schweizer and P. Meyers, “A New Approach to the Authenticity of Ancient Silver Objects: The Discontinuous Precipitation of Copper from a Silver-Copper Alloy,” Proceedings of the 18th Int’l. Symposium on Archaeometry and Archaeological Prospection (Cologne: Rheinland-Verlag GmbH., 1978), pp. 287–298.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    W. Gowland, “Silver in Roman and Earlier Times: I. Pre-historic and Proto-historic Times,” Archaeologia, 69 (1918), pp. 121–160.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    D.A. Scott, “Technical Study of a Ceremonial Sican Tumi Figurine,” Archaeometry, 38 (1996), pp. 305–311.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    C.S. Smith, “The Interpretation of Microstructures of Metallic Artifacts,” Application of Science in Examination of Works of Art. ed. W.J. Young (Boston, MA: Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1965), pp. 20–52.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    L. Ercker, Treatise on Ores and Assaying, Translation of Second Edition of 1580 by A.G. Sisco and C.S. Smith (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1951), pp. 80–81, 191–198.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    A.L. Norbury, “The Effect of Quenching and Tempering on the Mechanical Properties of Standard Silver,” Journal of the Institute of Metals, 39 (1928), pp. 145–172.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    M.P. Seah, “Adsorption-Induced Interface Decohesion,” Acta Metallurgica, 28 (1980), pp. 955–962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    W.A. Oddy and R. Holmes, “The Hockwold Treasure,” The Art of the Conservator, ed. W.A. Oddy (London: British Museum Press, 1992), pp. 137–150.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    J. van Reekum and E. Moll, “Coating Silverware: From Daily Use to Museum Object,” Zeven IJzersterke Verhalen over Metalen (in Dutch), ed. H.A. Ankersmit and J.A. Mosk (Amsterdam: Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage, 2000), pp. 74–79.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    R. Wood, “To Protect and Preserve,” Materials World, 8 (2000), pp. 30–32.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© TMS 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Wanhill
    • 1
  1. 1.National Aerospace Laboratory NLREmmeloordthe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations