Author: SL Lee
Date: 07-02-06 12:25
The reason I brought the medal to the public is to find out if any other medal of the same kind exists. I have inquired most museums with no avail. I am open to suggestions and scrutiny about the authenticity of the medal.
There are questions about its strange calligraphy, which is a mix of kaishu (regular script) and zhuanshu (seal script). My interpretation is the Ming emperor (or his desingnated craftman of the medal) thought that seal script would be more official and authoritative, but it might not be easily recognized by the foreign nations (in the mind of the emperor or the manufacturer). So, it was done with a modification they thought would be more acceptable.
A fake of something is often modeled after some existing objects. This medal is unique in design and too plain to have any artistic or monetary value. A fake antique is often done to increase the value with sophisticated decor.
The transition of bronze to brass is a major development of China's metallurgy during Xuan De era, contrary to the statement of the 'senior research fellow' from Singapore. There are plenty of citations about Xuan De brass including the records of the 3000 Xuan De censers and the coins made in Xuan De era.
This article by a researcher of Palace Museum is worth reading.
The definition of "Huang Tong" in Chinese and the term "brass" could be different. For brass, the zinc content can vary from 5 to 20%.
The medal was analysed by Scan Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersion Spectroscopy to have zinc at 8% in several spots, but absent in other spots, showing that it is right at the transition period of brass manufacturing when the technology was still immature to produce homogeneous brass.
With today's technology, homogeneous brass would be the norm. With modern technology, it would be harder to make heterogeneous brass than homogeneous brass. That is, it is harder to fake this medal with today's technology.