Is this Brass?

March 25, 2021

Is this Brass?I love this piece, does anybody know if it's brass or bronze? Have literally no idea, it is kind of heavy. Know anything more about this piece? Thanks !!!


Is this Brass?
Is this Brass?


Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 320 Answers
March 25, 20211 found this helpful
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If you hold a magnet against it and feel a pull, it is brass- or bronze plated (due to the underlying metal). If there's no attraction, then the piece is solid brass or bronze. To determine if it is all bronze, strike it with the handle of a wooden spoon or dowel; the piece should make a ringing sound. Finally, bronze will have a redder color than brass, which is yellow-ish, and be heavier. This item looks like a centerpiece; I can see why you like it.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
March 25, 20211 found this helpful
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The differences between brass and bronze are not always that easy to identify without specialty tools.

"Bronze is tough and durable as well, but it is not easily flexed. It does withstand water, which in turn makes it resistant to corrosion. Although brass is strong, it is not as durable as copper or bronze. Brass is susceptible to corrosion and cracking, and it is not flexible at all."


Does your piece show any signs of rust/corrosion?
There is a lot of information online but most is technical or requires scarping to the piece and you ay not wish to do this.

You can take your piece to a local plumbing shop and they can tell you exactly what you have. They will probably know by holding it but if not, they have all of the tools necessary to provide the answer.

Most likely a larger pawn shop can tell also. many are glad to help but the plumbing shop is the best place to go as they use these metal all the time. (I know it may sound crazy but try it when you stop laughing.)

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Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 440 Answers
March 27, 20211 found this helpful
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Alloys based on copper have similar properties and appearance. For this reason, metals are often confused. The greatest difficulties arise when it is necessary to distinguish bronze from brass. It seems to me that your piece is made of bronze, but I'm not sure. It's really hard to tell using the photos.


The alloys have many grades and modifications, especially vintage alloys, which often coincide even in color and characteristics. It is rarely possible to identify the type of metal by external signs. Comparing brass and bronze, the differences must be sought in the composition of the alloys.
The bronze is heavier. The reason is the presence of tin. Its mass is greater than that of zinc.
The corrosion resistance of brass is lower. Bronze can come into contact with salt water with little or no consequence, but brass alloys must be alloyed to reduce the effects of corrosion.
The wear resistance of bronze products is higher, since the metal has a lower coefficient of friction.
According to these properties, it can be noted that bronze is stronger than brass when considering alloys of the same quality.

Things made of brass have a yellowish tint with a fine-grained texture. In your photos, the piece is a little reddish.

Also check if your vintage thing has any broken pieces. Look at the break point. Brass breaks with rather small grains, bronze breaks off in large pieces, has a coarse grain. In this case, the color of the fracture of bronze is with a reddish tint, if it is brass, then with whitish or yellowish.

About the method with using a magnet:
As you know, magnets attract only certain metals, mainly iron, nickel, cobalt. The percentage of iron and nickel in bronze is 7-11%, and in brass no more than 1-3%. You will need a very powerful magnet to identify the type of the alloy. If you notice that the metal is attracted, the alloy is probably bronze.

There is the chemical method, but this requires nitric acid, which is dangerous to work with, and a chipped piece of your item. I think you can ask for this analysis in some chemical laboratory. The analysis process is as follows: water and nitric acid are mixed 1 to 1; the metal is placed in a prepared solution; heating the reagents to the boiling point; it is necessary to maintain boiling until the metal is completely dissolved. Next, you need to visually inspect the solution. If brass has been placed in the reagent, the liquid will remain clear. Dissolved bronze will not disappear, a white precipitate will appear.


Spectrum analysis will help you determine exactly what kind of metal it is.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
March 25, 20211 found this helpful

Real brass will not stick to a magnet. It will stain and not rust. It also has a yellow undertone

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March 27, 20211 found this helpful

Judy is right about brass:
"Real brass will not stick to a magnet. It will stain and not rust"

The main reason I brought up the words; rust/corrosion is because the bottom of your lamp appears to be 'dirty' so it could be a problem.


Plated-brass will usually stick to a magnet and many lamps are plated-brass.
I just wanted to add a couple of links about cleaning your lamp (after you know the metal content for sure).

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 140 Posts
March 28, 20211 found this helpful

There are a few household products that you can use to tell the difference in the two. These two are metals of similar mixtures. Brass has -alloy of copper & zinc, Bronze- is a alloy of copper & tin. Here is how you can make a paste that will not harm your piece to get the answer. -

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
April 3, 20210 found this helpful

Do you have a place like Treasure Hunt around you? Ours has a machine that tells you the metal composition of pieces. Naturally they are looking for gold and silver, but they will tell you no matter what the materials.

Let us know what you learn!

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