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Pre Columbian casting methods


I have a client who brought me a number of pre columbian gold
figurines. One of the items was a frog and I could clearly see
parting fins between the fingers and toes. This guy paid a great
deal of money for these items. $20,000 for one of them. He p[lans to
buy more of them. Does anyone out there know how the Maya, Inca,
Toltec, etc. cast these gold items?


Robert, Often the model material was wax and the mold material was
stone. Quite of few types of stone were used. I would advise anyone
purchasing these types of items to beware of reproductions. I have
seen quite a few.

Joel Schwalb


Robert - Unless I am greatly mistaken those objects are illegal
contraband. Either that, or forgeries of illegal contraband. It is
against US law to purchase or import such antiquities, and it is
also against the laws of all Middle and South American countries to
export them. The trade in illegal antiquities is all of our
responsibilities to police. Please distance yourself from this

Jim Small
Small Wonders Lapidary.


bee’s wax wrapped with a clay covering that results in a mold is
the usual method with a pour or a sling cast…I would think that if
there are parting lines then it may be a rock mold… my first
thoughts are if there ate parting lines than the probability of a
knockoff is highly possible. perhaps there were sand cast as halves
and then fused together. again my thoughts are the technical
limitations and the craftsmanship of the Colombians would have
remove those parting lines with string and grit combo showing
evidence of that rather than poor craftsmanship leaving unwanted
design elements… Just my two cents…Ringman John


Hi All: Being privileged to know a couple who have spent their
lives studying, photographing and restoring PreColombian Art, I
asked them about technoques for casting gold. Here is their brief
response.It came with a promise to provide more detailed
if we would find it useful.

The Precolombians were amazing as to the alloys they created, the
washing of metal mixtures to raise the gold content to the surface,
the ability to do lost wax casting of fine filligree, etc. etc.

They usually they made a wax model, covered it with a mixture of
clay and ash, the mixture depending on how fine a mold they wished
to obtain, (and they are all over the map in quality), inserted the
channels to pour in the molten gold and then when they broke the
mold and finished off the joining lines (if there were any) ,and the
chaplets (where the pouring channels joined the surface), did hand
touchup, acid baths, etc. and final polishing. They also did
repoussee and soldering. You name it, they did it! They were
extremely sophisiticated.

If you would like to see some wonderful PreColumbian vases and pots,
see and also for an article about the Kerrs and
their invention of the Rollout Camera, see

Hope you find this helpful. Sandra