Registered User
Jun 15, 2015
Downingtown, Pennsylvania USA
PURPOSE: This thread has been started to help those who are looking for tips and techniques on how to restore gold incising (simulated, not real gold leaf). Rather than having to search through multiple threads only to find partial or fragmented answers specific to individual cases, and to help avoid having contributors repost the same information repeatedly, this thread can serve as a consolidated source of valuable information for this topic.


  1. Never start a restoration project blindly. There is a wealth of information readily available. Use it and ask for advice and guidance. Seek professional help directly if necessary.
  2. Always test a small sample or in an inconspicuous location to ensure that your materials and tools will not do more damage than good.
  3. Practice on a representative sample instead of the final article if you can.
  4. Read and heed all directions and warning labels for any supplies or tools you use.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert. I am only posting from a limited experience base, but have been pleased with my results. Hopefully others will provide more in-depth advice and warnings.


Incising is defined as using a series of cuts or carvings to decorate a surface. Gold or other filler material may be applied to the incising to make it stand out more.

Here are some before and photos of gold incising restoration (including other restorative efforts):

pre_purchase.jpg primary.jpg

There are at least three methods to restore gold incising. Each has it's pros and cons, and hopefully, if there are other techniques, they will be contributed to expand the knowledge base.

1. Clean - sometimes the gold incising is fine, but a layer of dirt and grime is covering it. In this method, a soft brush can be used with waterless GoJo (non abrasive type) or your preferred cleaner. Care must be take to only clean the dirt and grime and not remove the gold filler material. Allowing the cleaner to soak for a little while may help loosen the dirt and grime. Test to make sure that longer exposure to your cleaning agent does not leave a stain on the finish. If you are worried about the surface finish, you can try to use a wood or plastic toothpick or other pointed (but not hard) tool to just work within the incising and not disturb the surface (or do so as little as possible).

If the incising is faded or missing after cleaning, either of the next methods might be used. Cleaning should be done before using either of these methods to ensure the new gold incising is applied to the base, not the dirt and grime, and to make sure the incising is as deep as possible so that the filler material does not get rubbed away during a final cleaning or polishing.

If you are restoring the overall finish of an incised surface, try not to wear away or fill the incising with the surface finish material. This may require cleaning the incising between coats of finish material. Cleaning can be done with a pin or other sharp tool. Be careful not to slip and mar the surface.

2. Work in, wipe off - in this method, a gold filler paste, such as Rub-n-Buff is applied liberally over the incising and surrounding surface, and then wiped off the surface to leave the material only in the incising. This method only works well on smooth finish surfaces. If the finish is rough, crazed or cracked, the filler material will get in the cracks as well as the incising and be hard to remove from the cracks. When rubbing the material in, make sure it gets to the bottom of some of the deeper areas, such as dots and leaves. Using a clean rag, wipe off the surface after rubbing the material into the incising. You can use mineral spirits or other solvent (again test), to help remove the material. Rub-n-Buff contains particles, and these will not be absorbed by your solvent. They sort of get pushed around the surface, so make sure you have plenty of wiping material, because you will need to use a lot of it to completely remove the material from the surface. It also helps to have a very thin cleaning cloth and a stiff backer. such as a block of hard wood. This keeps the cleaning material on the surface and helps prevent it from being pushed down into the incising and removing the filler material from within the incising.

This surface in the next photo would not be a good candidate for the "work in, wipe off" method. It is too rough and cracked and the incising will fill these areas leaving a very messy looking surface. The next method would be a better choice for restoring this incising.


3. Ink or paint in the incising - in this method, a pen or brush is used to apply the filler material only in the incising. This method works well on rough or cracked surfaces since the filler material does not get on the surface. This method requires a steady hand and more precise tools. I don't have any experience here, but know there are a lot of other forum members who do and hope they contribute their techniques in detail.

If you have used either of the above methods to apply new filler material, allow it to cure before applying other finishes to the surface.

I hope you find this information valuable. If anyone has any YouTube videos to reference, that would be great. I may try to do one on my next project.

Good luck on your next gold incising project.
Last edited:

Bruce Alexander

Brass Member
Feb 22, 2010
Hanover, PA
A few years ago I worked on restoring the Gold Incising of an Ansonia Rosalind. A previous attempt had been made to restore the gold incising but some of the "incised" areas were very shallow and partially filled with Black Enamel Paint. I don't know if the clock was originally finished this way or if something had been done to the finish after its initial purchase. It didn't look repainted as there were some areas of light corrosion. I removed the previous attempts and then used antique gold paint and a calligraphy pen set. I had to often "clean up" the rounded edges of the newly painted incised scrolling with Q-Tips. It was my first effort at this and certainly wasn't perfect but I think there was some improvement.

As_Found_Front.jpg P1010764.jpg AsFound_Restored.jpg

Bruce Alexander

Brass Member
Feb 22, 2010
Hanover, PA
Hi Tom. Thank you for the kind words. I just used an inexpensive Calligraphy Pen Set from a local craft store. It came with an assortment of six pen tip sizes which fit into one of two handles. Because I was using relatively thick metallic paint, I ended up using the Largest Pen Tip to place the paint. The incised pattern was very shallow with rounded edges in areas so I used Q-Tips to help clean up the edges wherever I placed too much paint. It just takes time and patience. At least it did for me. ;)
Know Your NAWCC Forums Rules!

NAWCC Forums

Find member

Forum statistics

Latest member
Encyclopedia Pages
Total wiki contributions
Last edit
Waltham's Canadian Railway Movements by Kent
Top Bottom