What is Brass?

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, used and prized since ancient times for its beauty, resilience, and durability. Color variations are the result of slightly different proportions of copper and zinc. Brass can be cast (Jefferson Brass), forged, spun, or die-cut. It is used in our homes for fine hardware, lighting fixtures, fireplace equipment, candlesticks and many other decorative pieces. It can also be finished in a number of ways. These include highly polished (Jefferson Brass); satin or brushed finish; hand rubbed finish; and antique, bronze and verdigris.

A piece is solid brass if the material is pure brass—whether it is the hollow tube of a fire tool or chandelier arm or a two pound candle holder. Jefferson Brass is always solid brass. Solid brass can be polished to its original beauty, but if a piece has been lacquered in the past, you must first remove the old lacquer. It can be removed without damaging the brass by using paint or lacquer remover.

If you are wondering if your piece is solid brass or brass plated, here is how you can tell. Test with a magnet. Solid brass is not magnetic. If the magnet sticks, the item is most likely steel or cast iron and has been brass plated. Still not convinced? Take a sharp tool, and scratch a small area that is unnoticeable. If you see yellow underneath that scratch mark, it is more than likely solid brass.

Fast forward to the year 2011. Jefferson Brass did not previously lacquer its pieces because we liked the look/patina of hand polished brass, and many of our customers preferred the same. If you find that time just doesn’t allow you to polish your brass, then you may consider having it lacquered. We now offer our custom lacquer process because we understand time restraints don't allow for the luxury of hand polishing your brass. We are very pleased with the results of our superior lacquer process. But remember clear lacquer finish is not forever. The durability of lacquer on outdoor items, such as door knockers, varies widely depending on the location and how much direct or indirect weathering the piece is subject to. You can always re-polish and re-lacquer if necessary.


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