Gold has always been fascinating mankind.
The production of genuine gold-leaf can be traced back more than 5000 years.
Since Cleopatras days the way of production basically stayed the same. The Egyptians have taken over the ability of beating gold until they become thin leafs from India. They flattened raw-gold with large hammers into thin discs. To protect the precious metal they put animal-hides between hammer, gold and anvil.
They already had various possibilities for usage, such as temples, palaces of monarchs, monuments and uncountable precious items.
Now as ever nearly everything is handwork, affectionate up to perfection. Only the first steps of production can be done by machines. The way from raw-gold to the finished goldleaf is long and expensive: First the fine gold becomes alloyed with few silver and copper just in order to create different colours. The metal is now melted in a kiln at more than 1200 degrees and founded into a bullion of over one kilogramm. Afterwards it becomes rolled mechanically into a tape of about 100 meters long and 4 centimeters wide. The gold now has a thickness of approximately 3 hundreds of a millimeter, just as thick as newspaper. Now the actual work of goldbeating begins. 3 steps are needed till the gold is only a breath.
- step: The gold-tape is cut into even squares that are thus piled up between special papers of leather waste, in the so-called Quetsche (first form). The 600 goldleafs and paper-foils are stacked upon eachother and are bound to a pack by leather-covers. This pack is now ready for the spring-hammer (a machine that hammers down at very high rate, constantly swinging on hughe springs) whose iron block rushes down on the gold so often until it reaches the size of the Quetsche - that are 12 cm in square. The thickness: 0,005 millimeter.
- step: Every single leaf is manually taken out of the form and is carefully cut with a special knife in four squares of similar size. The gold is now that thin that it can only be touched with wooden tweezers. Each leaf of now 6 x 6 centimeters ist put between special heat-resistant paper, 1.600 pieces in a form that in technical language is the called Lot (second form). All of the paper-foils have to be coated with a special nonstick-layer, the so-called Braun-dust. He prevents the gold from sticking. After repeated treatment with the spring-hammer the thickness of the leafs is only 0,001 millimeter.
- step: Up to this stage the work of beating the gold could be done by machines. But now, when the leafs are again quartered and filled into the so-called Dünnschlagform (third form, about 2000 extremely resistant plastic-foils), the manual beating begins. It doestn´t only deserve muscle-power, as the gold must be chased from the inside to the outside with much sense and care. The beating has to be done according to strictly set rules that the gold-beater has to keep. He alternately uses the left and the right hand, and by twisting and turning the pack he takes care that the strokes are evenly spread. Now the gold is only between 0,0001 and 0,0003 millimeters „thick“.
The purpose of the last working-process is to cut the now extremely thin foils (they shine green when they are screened) by hand into the commercial measures of 80 x 80, or 65 x 65 millimeters. Only highly skilled female workers can touch this „breath“ of gold with their wooden tweezers without damaging the foils. The residue is carefully collected and melted again. After processing one kilogram it is approximately 700 gramms that are returned to the next production-circle, thus some molecules may never leave the works of WAMPRECHTSAMER.