Ca 1860-80 pair of sunglasses with the metal parts made of Paktong, the rim is made of tortoise shell and the lenses are made of cloudy rock crystal. One of the most bizarr objets I bought of my 40 years as a dealer
Nickel silver was first known and used in China.During the Qing dynasty, it was “smuggled into various parts of the East Indies”, despite a government ban on the export of nickel silver.It became known in the west from imported wares called bai-tong or paktong (白銅, literally “white copper”), for which the silvery metal colour was used to imitate sterling silver.
In Europe, consequently, it was at first called paktong, which is about the way pai t’ung is pronounced in the Cantonese dialect. The earliest European mention of paktong occurs in the year 1597. From then until the end of the eighteenth century there are references to it as having been exported from Canton to Europe. German imitations of paktong, however, began to appear from about 1750 onward.