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Roman Gold

Roman Gold.  Contrasting matte finish and polished surface on the same item that has been goldplated. The term was infrequently used in the jewelry field beginning in 1890s where either bronze, brass or sometimes other alloy was given a matte finish – by light sandblasting or chemical dip – then the contrasting area highly polished before the object was goldplated. The surface would retain the finish of the matte and polished areas but be the color of the goldplate.

In the numismatic field the term was applied to proof surface United States gold coins of 1909-10 (which, of course, were coin gold and not goldplated). The coins bore contrasting sandblast matte and proof polished surfaces. New York coin dealer Abe Kosoff adapted the term, borrowed from the jewelry field, in describing the coins in the early 1940s because the coins bore these contrasting matte and proof surfaces.

When silver is goldplated – in any finish, including matte, polished, a combination of the two, or any other finish – it is called vermeil particularly in modern times. Thus there is no comparable term for silver as there is for gold in Roman gold.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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