A note on the analysis of metal threads

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Costa, Virginia; De Reyer, Dominique; Betbeder, Maria;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 57, Number 2, p.112-115 (2012)


The present work demonstrates by means of two practical examples the extreme importance of examination of cross sections of metal threads to obtain an overview of their structure and of the different materials employed in their manufacture. Problems that might be caused by disturbance of surface features during polishing were prevented by covering the sample before embedding with a layer of nickel, using electroless deposition. Results from scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) showed that, although the mean chemical composition of both metal wires is the same, their metallurgical structure is completely different: one consisting of pure silver with inclusions of copper particles and the other a silver‐copper alloy.