Date: Circa 1920s
Material: Zinc with Oxi-silver finish 


This handle is die cast. Although it’s a Newman Brother’s design, all of their die-cast goods were manufactured off site, as they didn’t have die casting facilities. They traditionally used sand casting to manufacture their products between 1894 and the mid 1960s. By the mid 1960s, this had become less efficient and more time-consuming. As a result, they commissioned outside die-casting companies to produce a range of their products for them.

The Oxi-Silver Finish

Newman Brothers were known for their variety of finishes. The oxi-silver finish that we see here was achieved by first nickel-plating the ring handle. To produce the black-lacquered finish, platinum was dissolved into nitro-hydrochloric acid, which was then allowed to crystalise.  This was then dissolved in spirit of wine, ether, or water. A few drops of this solution are then mixed with any of the bronzing powders, such as crocus, sienna or rouge.

The handle was then gently heated to allow smooth application of the lacquer. If any areas needed to be lightened, this was done by applying a little liquid ammonia to them with a piece of chamois leather. The handle is now completely black. In order to achieve the oxi-silver finish, the handle was then polished to remove the black lacquer to reveal silvered parts as seen here.

The Casting Shop

On the south side of the courtyard was the Casting Shop. It was here that the high-quality brass coffin handles for which Newman Brothers were so famous were made. Unfortunately, the one-storey range containing this workshop was demolished in 1967 and replaced by the two-storey range we see today.

Read more about the Casting Shop and the casting process here.

This item is in the following Themes:

Industry & Manufacturing