Gold Leaf

Is this actual gold?

By Deane Barker

Yes, it’s actual gold.

This is gold that’s been hammered down to be a flat, tissue-thin layer, which can be applied to surfaces for artistic reasons.

Applying gold leaf to surfaces is known as “gilding,” and it’s where we got the term Gilded Age to refer to an American period in the late 1800s. (Technically, gilding refers to applying any thin metal, but gold is the most common.)

Gold leaf is used mostly in art and architecture, both to suggest luxury and wealth, but also because it’s a very durable and non-reactive surface.

Why I Looked It Up

In The Imagineering Story, there was discussion of using gold leaf on the architecture of the Tokyo DisneySea park. I had heard of gold leaf, but I thought there’s no way it’s actual gold – who would use that in an amusement park? I was convinced this was…fake gold, or it referred to a general concept, not an actual meta.

But it’s real gold.

And it’s not that expensive. It usually comes in “booklets” of small sheets, about three inches square (see image). For example, 25 sheets – which covers just under two square feet of surface – was selling for about $65 on Amazon.

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