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Named after Christopher Pinchbeck, an 18th century London watchmaker who developed the alloy.


pinchbeck ‎(usually uncountable, plural pinchbecks)

  1. An alloy of copper and zinc once used as imitation gold for cheap jewelry.



pinchbeck ‎(comparative more pinchbeck, superlative most pinchbeck)

  1. Made of pinchbeck.
  2. Sham; spurious, artificial; being a cheap substitution; only superficially attractive.
    • 1860, Anthony Trollope, Framley Parsonage:
      Where, in these pinchbeck days, can we hope to find the old agricultural virtue in all its purity?
    • 1912, Esther Willard Bates, Pageants and Pageantry, page 237,
      Vain Delight must have lost her freshness, and be older and more pinchbeck.
    • 1915, Joseph Conrad, Victory, Note to the First Edition,
      The second point on which I wish to offer a remark is the existence (in the novel) of a person named Schomberg.
      That I believe him to be true goes without saying. I am not likely to offer pinchbeck wares to my public consciously.
    • 1996, John M. Sherwig, Guineas and Gunpowder: British Foreign Aid In the Wars with France, 1793-1815, page 180,
      Coming at a time when Alexander was trying desperately to halt Napoleon's advance, the British response to his call for help appeared even more pinchbeck than it was.
    • 2006, Clive James, North Face of Soho, Picador 2007, p. 183:
      Anyway, at least I had created the pinchbeck crown in which Dai could place his jewel.