Steel spoon, Persian, 1801-1930.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The spoon has a shallow perforated bowl, and tinged handle, decorated with an inscribed and painted arabesque design and Islamic script. The proces for decorating a metal by inlaying a soft metal into a harder metal matrix without the use of heat, is called damascening. The method is common throughout the world and has nothing to do with Damascus steel. There are two main types of damascening. The first involves hammering and punching followed by filing, sanding and polishing and burnishing, whilst the second type involves creating a rough surface and then thin foil is hammered into place and burnished. The matrix is usually a hard metal such as steel, bronze or nickel whilst the inlay is a soft metal such as gold, silver, bras or copper.