Gold-beaters: trade so rare there is just one left

Gold leaf is incredibly delicate but is the product of substantial force in the presses

Crafts in focus: Apprenticeship with last business standing is the only way to get into this once so popular trade

In the Middle Ages, French batteurs d’or (gold-beaters) were so numerous they formed a Guild. By the Revolution there were 25 still in work. Now there is only one left in France.

A batteur d’or uses blocks of solid gold to make leaf so fine it breaks apart when touched. The name encapsulates the combination of strength and delicacy required for the job.

Although the trade dates back to antiquity, gold-beating is no longer entirely done by hammer, a job that required the strength and stamina of a blacksmith. Instead, machines have been introduced.

Pure gold is melted at temperatures of up to 1,200C and, with tiny ...

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