Handbook on Japanning: 2nd Edition For Ironware, Tinware, Wood, Etc. With Sections on Tinplating and Galvanizing

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Japanning, as it is generally understood in Great Britain, is the art of covering paper, wood, or metal with a more or less thick coating of brilliant varnish, and hardening the same by baking it in an oven at a suitable heat. It originated in Japan—hence its name—where the natives use a natural varnish or lacquer which flows from a certain kind of tree, and which on its issuing from the plant is of a creamy tint, but becomes black on exposure to the air. It is mainly with the application of "japan" to metallic surfaces that we are concerned in these pages. Japanning may be said to occupy a position midway between painting and porcelain enamelling, and a japanned surface differs from an ordinary painted surface in being far more brilliant, smoother, harder, and more durable, and also in retaining its gloss permanently, in not being easily injured by hot water or by being placed near a fire; while real good japanning is characterised by great lustre and adhesiveness to the metal to which it has been applied, and its non-liability to chipping—a fault which, as a rule, stamps the common article.