Composition and Microstructures of Imperial Brass Chinese Coins
Twenty brass Chinese cash coins with complex compositions were studied for a better understanding of the metallurgical cash production in China, during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Elemental composition was obtained through energy-dispersive micro X-ray fluorescence spectrometry of small cleaned areas on the coins rims. Results showed that these brass alloys (Cu-Zn) frequently contain up to 3% Sn, have highly variable Pb content (from n.d. up to 14%) and Fe, Sb, and As as minor elements. Microstructures were assessed by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy, and preliminary micro X-ray diffraction analysis. All the coins present typical as-cast microstructures although very fine-grained, which are supported by binary (Cu-Zn) and ternary (Cu-Zn-Sn) equilibrium phase diagrams, that explain microstructural differences due to the presence of Sn in these brasses.
Luís Guerra ROSA and Fernanda MARGARIDO
M.J. Furtado et al., "Composition and Microstructures of Imperial Brass Chinese Coins ", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 636-637, pp. 531-537, 2010