Versão em português
N.º 22
pp. 51-58


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Gold and not so real gold in Medieval treatises

Srebrenka Bogovic-Zeskoski

In Restauro Conservart Inc., 345 Melrose Av., Toronto, Ont. M5M1Z5, Canada; Croatian Conservation Institute - Hrvatski Restauratorski Zavod, Ul. Nike Grskovica 23, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia


The aim of this study is to evidence diverse materials and processes used by artisans (and alchemists) required to synthesize a visually viable replacement for gold. The emphasis of the research is upon the production of mosaic gold or porporina, a pigment that has survived into modern times, which was used as ink and as paint. Base metals, mostly tin, but also alloys were used both into foils coated with glazes and varnishes and as pigment. The research focuses upon recipes documented in treatises dating from Antiquity to the late Medieval period (ca. 1500) and an attempt is made to answer two questions. In the first place, why was there a need for a surrogate? Secondly, why are there so few tangible examples detected on surviving artifacts? In conclusion, an argument is offered pointing out that, although much can be learned by scientific examination of artifacts, textual analysis is equally important and necessary to unravel mysteries of ancient technologies


Mosaic gold
Medieval treatises







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Bogovic-Zeskoski, S., 'Gold and not so real gold in Medieval treatises', Conservar Património 22 (2015) 51-58,

Bogovic-Zeskoski, S. (2015). Gold and not so real gold in Medieval treatises. Conservar Património, 22 51-58. DOI:10.14568/cp2015018.

Bogovic-Zeskoski, Srebrenka. 2015. "Gold and not so real gold in Medieval treatises." Conservar Património 22:51-58. doi:10.14568/cp2015018.

BOGOVIC-ZESKOSKI, Srebrenka – Gold and not so real gold in Medieval treatises. Conservar Património. [Em linha]. 22 (2015) 51-58 [Consult. ]. Disponível em WWW: <URL:>. ISSN 21829942.

BOGOVIC-ZESKOSKI, Srebrenka. Gold and not so real gold in Medieval treatises. Conservar Património, Lisboa, v. 22, p. 51-58, 2015. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: .


Received: 2015-7-19
Revised: 2016-1-17
Accepted: 2016-1-18
Online: 2016-1-22
Publication: 2016-1-27


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