'Paktong', meaning white copper in Chinese, is an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel. It originated in China and although it first arrived in London in the 1720s, it was first developed by the Chinese much earlier. The principal advantage of paktong is that whilst resembling silver, unlike silver, it does not tarnish. Paktong is very hard, and remains unaffected by atmospheric conditions, and can be easily cast, hammered and polished. The most important use of Paktong in China was for the Imperial Coinage, but later became frequently used by furniture makers for hinges (see lot 129 in this sale) and candlesticks (W. John and K. Coombes, Paktong, London, 1970).
The candlesticks' form relates to that of a set of six silver candlesticks by William Gould of London, two bearing date letter for 1749 and four 1750, was sold anonymously, in these Rooms, 9 July 1997, lot 112.