Britannium - Chemical Composition, Mechanical Properties and Common Applications

Topics Covered

Chemical Composition
Mechanical Properties


Given that this years Oscar statuettes will now be sitting comfortably in the trophy cabinets of the recipients, they may be interested to learn a little more about one of the most important metal alloys present in the awards - britannium.

Britannia, or britannium, is a pewter-based alloy that is favored for its smooth surface and silvery appearance. Britannia was initially produced in 1769 or 1770 under the name of Vickers white metal by Sheffield manufacturers Richard Jessop and Ebenezer Hancock.

Britannia is a specific pewter type branded for marketing purposes and it is normally spun rather than cast. 

Chemical Composition

The composition of britannia is shown in the table:

Tin 92%
Antimony 6%
Copper 2%

Mechanical Properties

Britannia metal has higher hardness and strength when compared to pewter.

It can be spun on a lathe or worked from sheets such as silver. Britannia alloy was first manufactured in Great Britain, hence the name, and can be cast in sand, plaster of Paris, metal or rubber molds. 

The melting point of Britannia alloy is 225°C.

Some of the properties of Britannia metal are listed in the table below:

Elongation 40%
Liquidus temperature 563°F
Solidus temperature 471°F
Tensile strength 23.8
Brinell hardness 8,600 psi
Modulus of elasticity 7,700,000 psi


In 1846, after electroplating with silver was discovered, Britannia was used as the base metal for silver plated cutlery and household goods.

The alloy was normally used as a more economic electroplated nickel silver which is highly durable.

A notable application of the metal is the making of the Oscar statuettes that are given at the Academy awards each year. The statuettes which weigh 8.5 lbs are gold-plated Britannia metal.

It is also used for making a number of utensils such as jugs, drinking vessels, urns and candlesticks and also for official maces.

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G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


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