Hand embossing or hand chasing?

December 20, 2022

Hand embossing or hand chasing?

In essence embossing is pushing out a design from behind, and hand chasing is using a sharp stylus or chisel to carve into a metal or similar.

The harder the metal the harder this is for both disciplines. Fine hand chasing or chancery can be seen on steel particularly in gun stocks, in the Georgian period bright cut items were very popular with flowers and swag designs.

In the 1840s with Queen Victoria on the throne the new modern taste/fashion was for highly decorative flowers and designs this tended to be by embossing, on hollow ware the silversmith or craftsman would use a blunt tool to push a design out through the metal, and then fine detail was hand chased onto the front surface.

Most Georgian silver started out as a plain item and later the Victorians decided to modernise or add their own taste. A silver smith with the right tools and of course skill could reverse the embossing by hammering the silver back into place, so if a purest item of silver say for c1700, has been messed around with later embellishments / embossing then this can be reversed back into a plain silver item.

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