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Vintage Solder


I got a piece today from an old estate that was made in the 1950’s.
It is a maple leaf brooch stamped from copper, but I have ideas for
incorporating it into a pendant. The clasp was soldered on using what
appears to be an easy silver solder, judging by the color, but I’m
not sure. Anyone have any idea what sorts of solder were being used
in those days ? (I was about 6 or something when this brooch was
made). I’d like to melt it off and remove the clasp before mounting
on the pendant, but I’m not sure what temperatures I might be dealing
with to remove such old solder, and I don’t want to mess up the leaf.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055



The basic hard to easy karat gold and silver solders where the same
in the 1950’s as today with the exception of possibly more of them
having Cadmium added. The other type of solder that I often encounter
on older pieces is lead based solders. This is the same type solder
as used by plumbers and was sometimes used on costume jewelry or on
fine jewelry as a repair by an inexperienced jeweler. The first thing
to do if you can not tell by eye is to take a graver or other sharp
object and test to see if the solder is soft enough that the graver
easily cuts into it. If this is the case it most likely is soft lead
solder which requires very low heat to remove. The problem is that
lead solder is a contaminant. In other words you must remove every
bit of it from the piece before you can do any hard soldering or the
new joint will not hold. Removing lead solder can be difficult on
some pieces since your choices of removing it is by scraping, filing
and sanding or by boiling in acid. If it is in fact higher
karat gold or silver solder than standard repair procedures are what
you would need to do based on the piece and type of repair or

Good Luck

Greg DeMark
If You Like Antique, Vintage or Custom Jewelry
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I would think that there is no danger other than fumes it could be
lead solder ya never know. Mask ventilate or better mask & go outside
and melt the solder off! clean it copper in my experience will not
melt that easily lol

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry


hi, i am sure it is the usual silver solder and you can remove it
with simple sawing and then file the piece for smoothning.


In the 50’s they were using essentially the same solders we use
today. “Modern” solders might have some tweaking of the components,
but they aren’t fundamental changes. My guess would be that it’s more
likely some sort of “soft” solder, since it’s copper. That being
lead, tin, or some mix. Get a knife blade and try to scratch it. Soft
solder will scratch like frozen butter, and you should be able to
carve it a little. If you warm up the piece, soft solder will flow at
a very low temperature. If it is silver solder, then it will resemble
your own solder, but being old it probably won’t flow very easily.
The easy thing to do it just cut off the finding, and clean up



It is very likely that the finding is soldered on with a lead based
solder as that would not anneal the stamping and any silver solder
would. You can test it with a medium low heat (500-700 F) and see if
it comes off easily use a little rosin flux or acid flux for soft
soldering from the hardware store. If it is lead solder then you will
want to remove all the solder from it before trying higher heats to
incorporate it into your work. Either abrasives (good dust mask is
essential to keep from inhaling lead dust !) or chemical means
(soaking in 50% solution of hydrochloric or muriatic acid follow all
standard acid safety precautions). If you do not remove all traces
then it will eat holes in the work as it is heated to higher
temperatures and be virtually impossible to remove from the piece at
that point.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts



Thanks, James. From its appearance it looked like either oxidized
silver solder or else plain old lead solder, but I wasn’t sure. I’ll
try the low-temp option of removing it. I don’t need to resolder or
really worry about removing the solder from the back of the piece.
I’ll probably use an adhesive to attach it to the new work, as I am
gilding the copper.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055


Thanks, John. The only problem is that given the shape of the leaf I
can’t think of any way to cut off the finding without messing up the
copper, which is stamped thin, so I’ll just have to unsolder it. Gee,
why didn’t my father leave me that old soldering iron of his?

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055


Lead solder it was - a 2-second touch with the torch and off came
the old clasp.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055