Font Size
Return to Previous Page

This time line provides a broad, though not comprehensive, chronology of the metal finishing techniques discussed in this publication.

Bronze Age
(4th–2nd millennium BCE)
  Corrosion layers (unintentional patination) have been found on the earliest examples of metal objects discovered at archaeological sites. The corrosion often modifies or obliterates intentional patinas, making it difficult to accurately date the earliest use of this finishing technique.

3rd millennium BCE
Metal foil and wire are inlaid into grooves and decoratively wrapped around and crimped onto objects in Egypt and the Middle East. This technique continued into the Roman period and later.

2nd millennium BCE
Metal leaf (thinner than foil) begins to be used to decorate statues.



Iron Age
(12th–5th century BCE)

Roman Period
(1st century BCE–4th century CE)

1st millennium BCE
Metal foil and wire are applied over entire objects as the first complete plating method in ancient Greece.

Early Roman period
Origins of displacement plating are attributed to the Romans.

Before 4th century BCE
Origins of mercury gilding and silvering are attributed to the Central Asian peoples, including the Scythians.

China: 4th century BCE or earlier

Europe: 2nd century CE
mercury gilding develops.

China: 1st century

Europe: 8th century
mercury silvering develops.


Medieval Period
(5th–15th century)
Europe: 9th century
Displacement plating is used to plate copper onto iron armor to prepare it for mercury gilding.

Middle East and Europe: 5th–15th century
Damascene and false damascene are used to create intricate designs based on earlier Middle Eastern inlay traditions.

(15th–17th century)

16th century
Silvering salts as pastes and solutions are employed to silver clock dials by displacement plating.


Industrial Revolution
(late 18th–early 19th century)
Electroplating is patented by George and Henry Elkington and comes into widespread use. The technique was invented by Luigi Brugnatelli, who plated gold onto silver in 1805.

The electroforming process comes into use, based on Boris Semionovich Yakobi’s 1837 invention of electrotyping, a method of making printing plates by electroplating.


Silicon Age
IBM begins to use the electroplating process in the production of computer chips.

c. 1970
IBM and Motorola begin to use damascene techniques in the production of computer chips.



Top >>

Return to Previous Page