A pair of Paktong candlesticks with stop-fluted columns and gadrooning to the base and separate lift-out drip pan. There is considerable, although not deep, porosity evident to the base of the left hand candlestick, perhaps suggesting an English workshop; this can be a difficult metal to work and 18th century products often show signs of post casting plugs to faults. Probably English circa 1780.
Paktong is a rare Chinese alloy imported in small quantities during the eighteenth century and used by European craftsmen to make domestic objects, sometimes in imitation of silverware. It is a very hard metal, slow to tarnish, and could therefore be used to make articles that looked as if they were made from silver but were in fact as hard as iron. The Adams brothers are known to have employed this metal in the making of fire tools, fenders and the more decorative elements of a fire grate. This metal has been shrouded in mystery since it was first recorded by Western travellers in the seventeenth century. The vital silver-coloured ingredient, nickel, was not identified in the West until the second half of the eighteenth century, and it was to be a further fifty years before scientists were able to perfect a viable imitation of paktong.