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Eighteenth-Century Meissen Porcelain Reference Data Obtained By Proton-Beam Analysis (PIXE–PIGE)



Prior to their restoration, the porcelain bodies of broken pieces from 31 authentic Meissen objects of the early 18th century were investigated by proton-beam analysis. Attention was paid so that the proton beam probed only the bare porcelain paste areas of fractures. Thus, contributions to the measured X-ray and γ-ray spectra from adjacent surface glaze were prevented. The chemical compositions, obtained by simultaneous detection of elements with Z ≥ 13 (X-rays) and lighter elements Z ≤ 14 (γ-rays), represent rather consistent mixtures of paste ingredients. This result highlights the durable recipes and raw materials used in early Meissen porcelain production in the years 1725–50. Mean concentration values of element oxides, deduced from the detailed measurements, prove suitable for use as a database for Meissen porcelain paste identification. Material authentication of intact objects, without access to the bare porcelain body, is demonstrated by inspection of the white glaze. Unique museum objects are examined in atmosphere and without sampling. A low proton-beam intensity and a short irradiation time ensure non-destructive analysis. Simultaneous radiation and backscattered particle detection allow complete composition analysis, using the established ion beam techniques of particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE), particle-induced gamma-ray emission (PIGE) and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS).