Brass will turn pink when tested with hydrochloric acid and will come to resemble pure copper as acid removes the zinc.
Leave the object submerged in the solution for anywhere from an hour to several days, until the encrustations have dissolved or fallen off and you are better able to identify the metal underneath.
Stir the solution periodically to prevent acid buildup and metal corrosion.
But first, you’re going to have to do some homework on this subject, because there weren’t a lot of early craftsmen who signed and dated their work to make it easy for today’s collectors to tell when the pieces were produced.
During the Colonial period, candles were a primary source of light and were widely used by the early settlers.
Aside from abstract patterns, early candlesticks took on the shapes of humans and animals and are sought after by collectors today.
For example, dolphin candlesticks were produced in several colors in the mid-19th Century.
Then, following the turn of the century (the year 1800), new techniques were used that allowed the candlestick and its stem to be hollowed out, thus producing a much lighter product.
A major innovation of the early 18th Century was the advent of the pressing machine, which, in effect, allowed mass production of glass stems and bases.
The properties of brass also result in a stronger metal than copper, which is very malleable. If the metal attracts magnets, it contains iron and may have brass plating, but the object cannot be solid brass.