The Ganoksin Project
S i n c e 1 9 9 6
Jewelry Manufacturing Methods and Techniques
Digital Antique Books - Jewelry History Brought Alive
Update for August 2011
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.
We invite you to own the entire collection of manuscripts, and
benefit from the ancient wisdom that we are presenting., while
supporting the Ganoksin Project.
Each pdf is a full digital book of searchable text and images, with
an easy access through an interactive table of contents.
The cost is 1.35 US$ per eBook for a single user license which
allows you to install, read and print the material on a single
New Releases for August 2011
Art Metal Work and Jewelry by Louis J. Haas, 1916
Price: 1.35 US$
I’ve always loved this 1916 book. It informed me at the start of my
career and taught me much about the workshop, making chasing tools
and more. The book is completely full of excellent drawings,
wonderful pen and ink sketches, first of tools, then a bench with
all dimensions, then a series of step-by-step projects, 23 of them.
This book is Manga for jewelers. It is like watching a video, each
step is artfully drawn, a wonderful visual cartoon for goldsmithing.
Each sketch is accompanied by distilled, clever, text. The projects
chosen contain all the skills one needs for making jewelry and basic
silversmithing. There are great tips on riveting, soldering, sawing,
and so on. I really can’t over-emphasize how wonderful and readable
the drawings are. The details of making are masterfully portrayed,
and for those of us who learn visually this book is really a treat.
Spend some time enlarging the images and paying attention to each
one as so many are crammed onto each page (Haas must have had some
severe restrictions from his publisher.) Its forty pages could
easily have been eighty.
A lot of the projects are larger than jewelry scale, bookends and
Here is a list of the sections and projects:
Tools and equipment
Making a bench and its measurements
Making an Escutcheon
(a decorative plate that fits over a keyhole)
A letter opener
A decorative corner for a box or case
Desk pad corners
Decorative hinge plates for furniture
A drawer pull
Forming an ash tray
A card tray
Raising a bowl
Polishing and Finishing
A stamp box (square)
A vanity box (round)
Making Chasing and Repousse tools
A tray with a repousse border (how to chase)
A bar pin with pinback
A repousse brooch
A repousse watch fob
A scarf pin
Casting a ring with cuttlefish
A wire pendant
Lost wax casting a ring
An excellent, collectible, important book.
File Size: 3.08MB, 40 pages.
How to Enamel: Practical Enameling of Jewelry with Hard Enamels
by Howard M. Chapin, 1911
Price: 1.35 US$
This 1911 book is a great introduction to enameling, and discussion
of definitions and techniques of various kinds of enameling. There
is insight into how enamels were prepared and delivered, as chunks
or large ‘plates’ that the enamellist broke up and ground for use.
This is really gritty, authentic enameling preparation, with all the
hand grinding one would ever want to know.
This is one of the seminal works that led to the 'washing of enamel"
approach common in North America. According to Bill Helwig,
America’s top enamellist, there was a mistranslation from a French
original in the 19th century, that led to the idea of washing
enamel. I personally think Bill’s dry sifting approach is accurate
and sensible. In any case, many enamellists happily follow the
washing and wet approach.
The techniques are all thoroughly described, and thoughtfully
presented. There are some forgotten techniques presented such as
’glitter enamel’, where ground up goldstone (aventurine) is added to
the enamel for a glittering effect. As well, the subtleties of
firing enamel in wood, coal, gas kilns are addressed. Another
forgotten approach is to create enamel photographs, firing images
onto the enamel. This has all the recipes and steps explained
(albeit rather complicated).
There is the occasional editorial comment such as “the vulgar modern
taste permits several different shades side by side without
partitions, or even blended”. The language is sometimes interesting,
for instance flux is called fondant.
Many observations and tips let you know the author is very
experienced at enameling. For instance cooling red enamel in heavy
machine oil enhances the color. Instructions for making your own
stoning sticks by mixing shellac and emery powder echo the tricks
that gem cutters use. Another good idea is making a quick support
mold in shellac (we might use Jett Sett) to hold the enamel securely
while stoning. A transfer method for enamel painting uses a sheet of
rubber to take enamel with oil from an etched copper plate and thus
have all the outlines for the enamel painting deposited on the
prepared enameled sheet.
As with all these old books you need to evaluate procedures in terms
of safety-many of the approaches need a fume hood today. Some of the
safety comments are almost humorous: “As the acid fumes eat the
flesh quite rapidly, it is advisable to wear rubber gloves when
dipping the metals.”
Chapters include: Enamel preparation, metals preparation, charging
enamel, firing, stoning, polishing, foils, using paillons, glitter
enamel, matt finishes, Plique-a-jour, enamel painting, decal use,
and creating photographs on enameled surfaces.
File Size: 2.44MB, 86 pages.
Electro-Plating (with numerous engravings and diagrams),
Paul Hasluck, Editor, 1905
Price: 1.35 US$
This rare book first published in 1905 gives a good explanation and
introduction to electroplating, with extensive chapters on polishing
and finishing work for plating. There are numerous recipes
throughout the text and the writer’s ‘Voice’ is clear and readable.
While the descriptions are aimed at an electroplating shop of the
late 19th century the can be scaled down for the small
shop. All the tools and equipment for each procedure is described in
detail. Along with large tanks the author explains making a small
tank using glass plates in a wooden box cemented with gutta percha
and pitch. An oddity is an engraving and description of a plating
balance that lets you measure the weight of metal applied to plated
There is a truly extensive chapter on various kinds of batteries and
how they are made giving a unique insight into early electricity -
useful to the McGyvers out there. This is the most I’ve
ever seen about batteries. Then there is a similarly exhaustive
discussion about Dynamos (DC current generators).
The chapter on grinding and polishing is very interesting and
wide-ranging. Many of the machines pictured are foot treadle
operated (the thighs of polishers must have been huge). Lists of
what abrasives work with different metals are followed by
instructions on making your own Tripoli and Rouge polishing
compounds poured into bars. The description of making the wooden
polishing wheels will make any contemporary polisher happy for
modern methods. First the wooden wheels were turned on a lathe, then
edges were wrapped in leather and rolled in hot fish or hide glue,
then in abrasive powders, letting them set for twelve hours, then
used and repeat the process to refresh them. Thorough on
buff and brush types and purposes follows. There is an insistence on
using stale beer as a lubricant for scratch brushing.
There are chapters on silver, gold, copper and nickel plating.
Removing verdigris, rust and all manner of surface coatings is
covered. Full (and truly dangerous) recipes are given for all the
plating solutions. There are specific notes for all kinds of
objects, such as bicycle parts, even preparing a sword for plating.
It is clear that plating was an art rather than a science, with many
reactions having visual clues to their progress. The text is
completely filled with the ‘voice of experience’, and observations
that hold true today in any plating practice. The details for each
type of plating are exhaustive, and written in a narrative style
that is easy to read. There are forgotten techniques as well, like
using copper anodes when gold plating in order to plate rose gold.
Brush plating, and dealing with problems like plating inside objects
and on all sorts of metals are addressed. A section on finishing the
plated works deals with all kinds of buffing and many steel and
agate burnishers, some shapes I’ve never seen before.
Finally there is a chapter on other plating solutions deals with
tin, iron, platinum, lead, brass.
This book contains many recipes and chemicals that are hazardous and
if worked with today require a chemical laboratory and trained
chemists to use.
155 engraved illustrations
First Edition February 1905, this edition: January 1916.
File Size: 10.7MB, 166 pages
The Art of Enamelling Upon Metal by Alexander Fisher, 1905
Price: 1.35 US$
This antique book on enameling gives a clear window into enameling
in the 19th century and the debates on legitimizing craft work as
fine art equal to painting, sculpture etc in importance and
vitality. This book provides a unique philosophical snapshot of the
time, with its deep and impassioned arguments for enameling as high
art. Quotes from William Blake, Goethe and others give a context for
enameled work. Design principles and the history of enameling are
dealt with. There is lots of technical as well. Plenty
of discussion of color, and how it is used and works with different
kinds of enamel and techniques. There is a really complete approach
to enameling and to the preparation of the metal surfaces under
them. There are actual recipes for making your own enamels using
silica and metal oxides, making fluxes, even colored fluxes at
different firing ranges. (You would need a lab to do this, as many
contain some lead). This kind of is simply not available
elsewhere. Medieval enameling techniques, and those from the late
19th century are discussed at length. There are many pictures of
enameled objects in black and white, and colored plates as well.
Published in 1905, lots of photos and a number of drawings.
File Size: 16.50MB, 113
The Jewelry Repairer’s Handbook by John Keplinger, 1902
Price: 1.35 US$
A wonderful 1902 book full of jeweler’s secrets and repair
techniques. Chapters include bench design, tools, chemicals, tables
and recipes, how to use gold testing acids, making rings, eyeglass
frame repair, jewelry repair and, oddly, disposing of unclaimed
repair work. Keplinger was a good writer and the text is readable
and professionally detailed. This book may cover more repair detail
well than any other.
It is interesting to see how many of the tools are exactly the same,
the main differences have to do with power tools like using a bow
drill. There are lots of good descriptions, and of tool making and
adapting, many of them, like wax boxes, or clamping tweezers are
still hand made today. The chemicals for a workshop are described
and how to make them, as well as precise directions for pickle,
anti-oxidizer, soft solder remover and many others. As with all such
old books avoid the recipes with toxic materials like cyanide.
Alloying is dealt with in the context of ring making and the whole
process is really well described, melting, casting into a charcoal
block, blowpipe use, working the metal, ring sizing. The chapter on
repairing glasses frames is really thorough and detailed. The
section on jewelry repair is just as well described, catches, making
pinstems, straightening wire, repairing rings with settings, new
prongs, stonesetting, shanks, buckles, bracelets, chains and all the
repair issues one see today. There is a section on fixing brass
musical instruments. Even basic refining to reclaim gold is
addressed. Polishing and its tools and procedures are well covered.
Electroplating too. The last section deals with organizing repair
envelopes and communicating with customers who have not picked up
work. An excellent book.
There are some jeweler’s notes in the margins and blank pages on
amber, alloying and gold plating recipes. 102 packed
File Size: 5.12MB, 102 Pages
Recommended: Watchmakers’ and Jewelers’ Practical Receipt Book, 1892
Price: 1.35 US$
This is a book of bench tricks, recipes and tricks written in 1892
compiled and published by the Hazlitt company in Chicago. Called ‘A
workshop companion’ it is full of rare, forgotten recipes and arcane
jeweler’s knowledge. The front page says “compiled from Private
Formulae” by the Hazlitt Company in Chicago. It covers "Practical
formulae and directions for solders and soldering, cleaning,
pickling, polishing, coloring, bronzing, staining, cementing,
etching lacquering, varnishing and general finishing of metals as
applied to the watch and jewelry trade, together with all the
important alloys used by the trade and many miscellaneous recipes"
The patination recipes are truly interesting, as are the polishing
compounds and alloys including early references to different ways of
making blue gold and other odd alloys. A real treat, a book that
sells for hundreds of dollars, if you can even find a copy.
128 pages jammed full of . File Size: 6.65MB, 128 pages
Recommended! The Private Book of Useful Alloys and Memoranda for
Goldsmiths, Jewellers by James Collins, 1871
Price: 1.35 US$
This 1871 book was compiled from the in-house notes of “one of the
largest and most eminent Manufacturing Goldsmiths and Jewellers in
this country” which had gone out of business, thus freeing Mr.
Collins to reveal the companie’s secrets and experience. Much of the
book is alloy recipes for all different purposes, such as enameling
gold alloys, gold for making pens, gold and silver solders. There
are sections on refining, on ‘coloring’ the gold (depletion
gilding). There are 96 pages of alloying and trade secret
and 36 pages of intriguing advertisements for books
being published in 1872.
File Size: 3MB, 132 pages.
Repousse Work for Amateurs by L. L. Haslope
Price: 1.35 US$
(subtitled “Being the Art of Ornamenting Thin Metal with Raised
Figures”) Another book essential for the serious chaser! This one
concentrates on details of chasing, tools, working methods. Includes
a number of metal working techniques as well, sawing finishing etc.
It is 103 pages (and a number of further pages of fascinating
File Size: 6.17MB, 103 pages.
Recommended: Educational Metalcraft by P. Wylie Davidson, 1913
Price: 1.35 US$
This book, originally published in England in 1913 covers repousse,
fine chasing, silversmithing, jewellery and enamelling. It is part
of Longman’s technical handicraft series of books. Inspired by the
Arts and Crafts movement it details the practical ways that are not
touched on as deeply in most texts since. The drawings are
excellent, clear and insightful. Like, really excellent. Along with
exceptional chasing and repousse there are surprises,
like the many pages of wire and sheet metal strip twisting examples
for borders and decoration. The section on enameling is unusual in
its early viewpoint, grinding lump enamel being the only option, and
firing trivet designs of interest. It has over 378 illustrations,
beautifully hand drawn and carried out.
File Size: 22MB, 227 pages.
Metal-Work, Chasing and Repousse for Home Art Workers by Frank G
Price: 1.35 US$
The subtitle of this book is “Chasing and Repousse for Home Art
Workers”. It was published in 1903. This book deals mostly with
chasing and repousse Really great engravings and
drawings to show tools, exercises and pieces. One of the few to show
tool holding positions in the hand. Lots of drawings of chasing tool
ends and shapes. There are a number of specific projects described,
some hardware oriented. This book is an essential reference for the
File Size: 19MB, 62 pages.
Decoration of Metals - Chasing, Repousse and Saw Piercing by John
Price: 1.35 US$
Published in 1894. This heavily illustrated book, many photographs
and line drawings which cover chasing and repousse in depth and with
subtlety. The hundreds of excellent line drawings of tools, stamps,
and more are excellent. The tool end images are especially clear.
There are many photographs of complex chased trays and other
objects. This is a great book, and essential for a serious jeweler
File Size: 68MB, 164 pages.