Mercury silvering or fire gilding is a silvering technique for applying a thin layer of precious metal such as silver or gold (mercury gilding) to a base metal object. The process was invented during the Middle Ages and is documented in Vannoccio Biringuccio's 1540 book De la pirotechnia. An amalgam of mercury and the precious metal is prepared and applied to the object which is then heated, sometimes in oil, vaporizing most of the mercury. The technique is dangerous since mercury is highly toxic, especially in its vapor phase. Mercury silvering can be detected through a variety of methods.
- Mercury glass, internally silvered decorative glass products named for their resemblance to mercury
- Liquid-mirror telescope, may use a layer of reflective mercury
- Mercury Silvering, archived from the original on March 4, 2005, retrieved 2010-02-12.
- Susan La-Niece – Metal Plating and Patination: Cultural, technical and historical 1483292061 2013 "During the Edo period mercury gilding, or tokin, was common. The Bankin Sugiwai Bukuro (Yarai 1732) describes mercury gilding thus: The objects to be plated are washed and then polished with a bamboo brush and powdered charcoal."