The profession of the goldbeater is a noble and very ancient one, practiced with great skill by the craftsmen of Ancient Egypt, the Greek poleis and Imperial Rome. The gold is first beaten into sheets with stones and then with a hammer. This decorative element and fascinating symbol of luxury and royalty, is excellent for decorating large surfaces and has been used since ancient times on monuments and in monumental architecture such as royal palaces, temples, noble residences and churches.
During the Middle Ages, the goldbeater’s craft spread extensively throughout all of Europe and became very important in Renaissance Florence. The art of the goldbeater captured the attention of Leonardo Da Vinci, as well as others, and at the end of the 15th century, he designed a goldbeating machine that could reduce the thickness of gold leaf from 500 to 30 microns. We do not know how many artisans actually made use of it. It is a fact that real mechanization came a few centuries later, between the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century, with all the new advances made by the first industrial revolution. The goldbeaters’ workshops began to evolve into real factories from the 1800s, and one of these was Giusto Manetti Battiloro, a name of international excellence since then.