Brass Repousse for Amateurs by Gawthorp, 1902
This 1902 book is the third edition. It is 98 jam packed pages of
great chasing and repousse The author taught many
people (including royalty) to do repousse and chasing as a hobby
pastime, a recreation. It is clear that at the turn of the century
the upper and middle classes pursued hobbies such as painting,
drawing and repoussee work (today people watch TV).
An arristocrat writes:“This is work that lasts; each blow from your
hammer helps produce something that cannot be broken, get dirty, or
soiled, as is the case with so many other sorts of work; nothing but
fire can destroy the handiwork of the Metal Worker”, and Gawthorpe
writes "What is more delightful and interesting than to be able with
one’s own hands to make useful and ornamental articles which are
almost indestructible, wherewith to decorate one’s own sanctum as
well as the more public rooms of the house ?
There are 42 excellent illustrations showing all kinds of chased
work and excellent drawings of tools.
The book begins with a history of Western repousse work, from
biblical times through Cellini. Asian work is touched on. A call is
made for the student to study technical details, punch work details
and not to be misled by design. Gawthorp criticizes the quality of
many of his contemporary teachers. This book is intended to teach
the amateur and contribute to a revival of repoussee work. Drawing
skill is important, but copying is suggested for beginners.
Tools are described and a minimal set of punches is proposed to
start with. The pictures are good and allow the reader to copy the
tools. In 1902 you could buy the set, and there are some commercial
sets available today which are similar, though more expensive than
the nine pence each they were at the time the book was written. Even
then though some oval and forming tools had to be hand made and were
not available from suppliers.
Pitch recipes are addressed and the author mentions that you can buy
his own special recipe pitch from him directly and that it is only a
little more expensive than making it oneself. The author also sold
pattern books of designs for students to use.
He prefers pouring the molten pitch onto a wooden or stone block
with a retaining rim of paper or cardboard with the pitch an inch or
so thick. This is then placed on a canvas sandbag which reduces
noise when chasing. He also uses an iron half ball with the pitch
again about an inch thick above the rim. One of his wealthier
students had a small table made with a rotating top surface just for
chasing on. The (window) light is on the far side of the work when
chasing, you sit facing it. The metal is scoured with emery and oil
to give a matt surface that lets you see scribe lines better.
The design is placed on the metal using carbon paper and then
scribing them, or by attaching the drawing to the metal and pricking
through with a needle-like punch to create dots. The descriptions of
how to hold and use the lining tools are in depth and clear.
Hammering is well described, as is the importance of thinking and
planning. Background matting and texturing is described. Attaching
and removing work from the pitch and repoussee work from behind are
addressed in detail. Hammerwork on lead is advised for larger areas.
There is great intimate detail about how to chase what to watch for
in the tools and marks made. Lots of description of chased surface
There is an entire chapter on creating and tooling backgrounds. It
is very extensive and detailed in its descriptions and approaches.
There is a chapter on related techniques, how to saw, cut, soft
solder the metals as well as lacquering.
Further chasing notes follow, including how to push metal out from
the inside of a vessel to get relief during the chasing, and using
A final chapter deals deeply with design for chasing,
considerations, details and options.
Download the full eBook at the ridiculous price of $5.
Digital Antiques Books - The Jeweler’s History Project
As with all the Ganoksin project books the text has been scanned
using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) which means it is
searchable and useable in ways not seen in a standard pdf. Similarly
the images are separately scanned and then stitched into the text,
allowing you to zoom in for very high magnification views of the
detail in the images.
Over the last three decades we have acquired over 40 rare historical
Metalsmithing books that we will make available to jewelers,
goldsmiths and the metalsmithing community.
These books cover special techniques in depth like chasing,
repousse, engraving, niello making, Japanese chiseling, soldering,
construction, patination and metal coloring, silversmithing and
more. There are many recipes for alloys and metal surface
The manuscripts will be gradually published in a digital format over
the coming months. For the first time in history, these ancient metal
tricks and recipes will be made available to the contemporary
community of curious artists and metalsmiths. This will
allow the reader to apply the simple and ingenious procedures used by
the jewelers of the past, long dead masters of the art of
metalsmithing. Many of the tricks and recipes described will save the
maker money, as older approaches can sometimes replace modern tools.