Advert for Thomas Bennett & Sons, manufacturers of gold & silver leaf
Medium: Print on paper
Gold leaf is a decorative art in which small amounts of gold are beaten into an extremely thin sheet, manipulated into different shapes, and then applied to another surface. It was first used by the Egyptians 7,000 years ago but it became popular again in the gaudy climes of 19th century fashion.
Middle-class Victorians viewed their possessions as an expression of wealth and social status. Having expensive objects, art and jewellery demonstrated affluence and prosperity. Jewellers were able to apply gold leaf to many items to make them seem more valuable than they really were. Silver leaf used the same principles, but was cheaper and less desirable.