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Bronze Testing

The SEM with EDS can also be used to determine the composition of a bronze sculpture by analyzing minute samples of its metal.

The results of this analysis are then sent on to a professional art expert who uses those results to authenticate the artwork.

The key to this analysis is to collect a useful sample.  

Most statues are covered in a patina and other surface contamination, which provides no useful data in identifying the metal.  If it is a large statue, it may be attached to a base which probably isn’t the same material as the statue.

Therefore, it is vital that the sample taken be a true representation of the bronze.  

One of the simplest ways to ensure a good sample is get a drill with the smallest bit possible.  Using a clean piece of paper, turn the statue on its side and drill a small amount from the underside of the statue onto the paper. MAKE SURE NOT TO DRILL TOO DEEP, but deep enough to pass through the patina and surface contamination to get to the metal.  If the statue is attached to a base, make sure the sample is taken from the place where the statue is attached to the base and not the base itself.

The metal drilled out should be shiny like a new penny.  The analysis doesn’t require a lot of material but ensuring clean, shiny samples will allow for a good analysis of the metal.

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SEMTEC Laboratories, Inc. - 5025 S. 33rd Street - Phoenix, AZ 85040
An ISO 9001:2008 Company
Phone: (602) 276-6138   Fax: (602)232-2225