Spelter is a synonym for a zinc alloy. Figurines, candlesticks, and other pieces were made of spelter and given a bronze or painted finish. The metal has been used since about the 1860s to make statues, tablewares, and lamps that resemble bronze. Spelter is soft and breaks easily. To test for spelter, scratch the base of the piece. Bronze is solid; spelter will show a silvery scratch. Zinc in the form of slabs cast from the liquid obtained in the process of reducing the ores. Spelter is the most common commercial form of zinc metal.
Zinc alloy, often containing lead, used as a substitute for bronze. Spelter was much used in the 19thC for cheap, cast articles such as candlesticks and clock cases. It was popular as an inexpensive medium for art Nouveau applied ornament and art deco figures.