Recently there have been a lot of sales of gold leaf packaged as replacement material for repairing scientific instruments called Gold Leaf Electroscopes, gizmos used to measure static electricity.
The snag is that this may not be real gold. I've queried this with the vendors, but never received a satisfactory reply. While these instruments have gold leaf
in their name, they work just as well with any other really thin flexible metal. A lot of the replacement material sold is actually Dutch metal, a form of brass that looks like gold.
This may not be a problem for some purposes, but gold is chemically inert; Dutch metal isn't. Expose it to acid or acid fumes and it will eventually turn grey and break up, which may not be what you want for art work etc. It could also be a problem if you're trying to restore antiques etc., or working on religious icons or other material where genuine gold is expected.
This isn't a scam by the manufacturers, they make no secret of the fact that they are supplying a substitute if asked. But since it really doesn't matter to their customers, what they sell usually
isn't real gold. For this reason any gold leaf sold under the name of a scientific instrument manufacturer may not be the real thing; UK brands to watch out for include Griffin and George, Philip Harris, Unilab, Timstar, Scientific and Chemical Supplies, and Beecroft, but there are many others.
Vendors on eBay may not know the difference, or may not care. The bottom line is that if the packaging doesn't say specifically that it is genuine gold, you should be very cautious.
Another Gold Leaf Con
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26 January 2010
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