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Antique French cast metal lamp figurine is what metal?

Q. Can you tell me what metal this large turn of the century French lamp figurine is made of?

painted metal statue lamp 1a painted metal statue lamp 1b

It's VERY heavy, seems too heavy to be spelter, and was cast from an original bronze sculpture by Henri Ple called "Maternite". It's got a painted finish.

Tharon Greene
- Gloucester Virginia
December 21, 2023

A. Hi

It's a pretty lamp and a beautiful woman; if I were a few years younger I'd have a hard time not offering to take her and her waifs in :-)
But it is probably not possible to tell from a photo what metal is underneath paint. If it's strongly magnetic, I might guess cast iron; but's it's almost surely not. So I'd guess it's spelter or bronze. I have read that if there are any cracks it's likely to be spelter, whereas if it exhibits any sort of ringing sound when struck it is probably bronze.

If you have friend at a scrap yard, a metals warehouse, or a university lab, they may have access to an "alloy sorter" [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] to help you out (this is a hand-held x-ray fluorescence device which can non-destructively determine metal composition.
Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. If it is VERY heavy it could be lead though I don't know if lead was ever used for such art pieces.
If it is VERY light it could be aluminum.
Otherwise iron, copper, bronze, brass.....
When was it panted last? It looks fresh !

H R Prabhakara
- Bangalore Karnataka India

A. Probably spelter or cast iron. Painted bronze is not something usual ... Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh Croatia

Painted metal statue lamps on eBay (affil link)

thumbs up sign H R Prabhakara: Thanks for your response. I think it's the original paint.
The finish is in very good condition considering age.

thumbs up sign Goran Budija: Thanks for your reply. It seems way too light to be spelter but could be cast iron. It's just been restored and is a beautiful piece. I'm posting some pictures of the restoration.

painted metal statue lamp 2a   painted metal statue lamp 2b   painted metal statue lamp 2c  

Tharon Greene [returning]
- Gloucester Virginia
January 6, 2024

A. Details are a little bit too sharp for cast iron, and difference in specific gravity between iron and zinc is small. Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh Croatia

thumbs up sign Well, I did determine it doesn't attract a magnet or vice versa so assuming not cast iron. Maybe copper? Too heavy for spelter. Weighs about 100 lbs. The Paris foundry mark is impressed in it; I have no idea which metals they primarily worked with in addition to bronze except probably spelter. I've found several other pieces like this one and there's nothing in the information about the metal. It is very sturdy and amazing to me how well the paint has adhered. The candelabra portion emerges from the figures back and is a weak point. It was broken when I bought the piece, had it restored, broke again in transport, going to attempt another repair. It's too heavy and I do believe the candelabra is spelter. Much lighter weight than the figure. Thanks for your response.

Tharon Greene [returning]
- Gloucester Virginia
January 14, 2024

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