Posted 5 years ago
I owned these a while ago, and to this day, regret selling them!
Shakudo buttons, circa 1880, from left to right:
- 5 frogs with the central two appearing to be wrestling while the others watch. Two are gold, one is silver, one is copper and the final one is blackened with gold eyes.
- Warrior encountering a genii or troll hiding in a crevice.
- Two noblemen with fighting cocks.
Shakudo is an alloy composed of Copper (Cu) (93~98%) and Gold (Au) (2~7%) (Shakudo can have other metals in it, though their content is usually <1%). Its melting point is 1900°F. Shakudo is a durable metal most noted for purplish-black patina (coloration, tarnish). The color comes from the metallurgical properties, not from any use of a coloring solution (as is common in European colored metals). This property is used aesthetically for creating a contrast with inlays (most notably pure gold), primarily to decorate katanas, the swords of the Samurai. When the Japanese government outlawed the Samurai in 1876, the craftsmen who had been working these metals for many generations had to look for other outlets for their craft and jewelry as well as other accessories were made.