Gateway Object: ‘Antique’ Brass Handle

Brown coloured metal coffin handle
Brown coloured metal coffin handle reverse


This handle is sand cast with a cotter pin attachment. By the mid 1960s, sand casting wasn’t seen to be the a very efficient process. As a result, Newman Brothers commissioned die-casting companies and hot stamping specialists to produce a range of their designs for them.

‘Antique’ Brass finish

Newman Brothers were known for their variety of finishes, including their bronze lacquers. The ‘Antique Brass’ finish we see here was achieved using the following method:

Platinum was dissolved into nitro-hydrochloric acid, which was then allowed to crystalise. This was then dissolved in spirit of wine, ether, or water. Drops of this solution are mixed with a bronzing powder such as crocus, sienna or rouge. This created a black-lacquer. Areas of the metal were then polished to remove some of the black lacquer, revealing the brass base below .

This handle came in a variety of finishes, including burnished brass. 


There are two types of coffin furniture designs: ‘General’ or ‘Registered’. Common designs that stayed in fashion and were produced by many manufacturers were referred to as ‘General’. ‘Registered’ designs were copyrighted and exclusive to a particular manufacturer, they had to be registered with the Board of Trade in London.

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