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Oct 21, 2012 07:01 AM

Is this pot tin-lined or stainless-lined copper--how to tell?

I have a recently acquired copper pot, and I simply cannot figure out if it is lined with tin or stainless. I honestly never thought it would be hard to tell the difference, but on this pot, I just can't tell! Do any of you know a simple test that would tell me for certain?

Here's why this is so difficult. The pot is a 3.2mm thick Gaillard, which automatically makes me think its tin, but the lining only come up to the inside of the rim (not across the top of the rim), and while the inside of the pot is stained, it looks like stain, not tin darkening. It also has stainless rivets, and the matching lid definitely appears to be a bi-metal. Lastly, on close inspection, the lining just has that stainless look to it.

Please see the photos below, and ignore the tatin in one photo.

Any thought would be appreciated!



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  1. Wait for chemicalkinetics and cowboyardee to report but IMVHO, eventhough the blackening on lining is not as intense as usual , my guess is tin. See if any miniscule brush marks are visible.
    My tin lined are not tinned on rim either.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      I actually looks like there are faint circular brush marks radiating out from the center.

    2. Delucacheesemonger is correct. Tin does not have to be up on the rim.

      It looks tinned, and I am not aware that Gaillard makes stainless steel cladded copper cookware in the first place. There are easy ways to find out tin vs stainless steel. Tin is much softer than stainless steel. Tin also melts at a much lower temperature than stainless steel. You can easily guess how to distinguish the two. If it is really stainless steel cladded with copper, then I would expect the steel to be thicker than what I saw from the photo. Now, there is in fact a non-destructive way to rule out it being tin, but not a way the other way around.

      East Coast Tinning has some photos of retinning work of a Gaillard pot -- look smaller, but similar. Obviously if the pot is stainless steel lined, then you won't need to tin it.

      1. Hi, Jeremy:

        I think this pan might be nickel-plated.


        3 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu

          Kaleo: Do tell. As I've never owned or seen a nickel-plated pan before, what's the tip-off!

          Everyone: A couple other observations: the lining does not quit reach the rim in a couple small places (it just comes to an end but it's a perfectly smooth transition from the lining to the copper), and where that happens, the lining does not have a bi-metal look to it, but it does seem really thin. It strikes me that it is thinner than wiped tin or any bimetal I've seen. Would this be consistent with nickel? Also, we've beat tin and stainless to death around here, but what's the deal with nickel regarding conductivity, stickiness, reactivity, and health-appropriateness?


          1. re: jljohn

            Hi, Jeremy:

            The *indication* to me was the lining's appearance--smooth and shiny, with a different luster than I see in SS.

            However, the magnet sticking and the concentric brush marks are indications that it is SS.
            Still, nickel is one of four elements that are ferromagnetic, so it's not a clincher. But it rules out tin.

            Yes, thin appearance is consistent with nickel, as would be a "sag" in where the plater painted the resist. Nickel is half again as conductive as tin, but nowhere near silver. It melts just above 2,640F, and it scores 4.0 on the Mohs hardness scale, so it is very durable for its thickness. There is such a thing as nickel allergy, but it is usually limited to contact dermatitis in the realm of metal solids. Nickel content is now regulated within the EU, but you can still buy new nickel-plated cast iron here in the USA.

            I do not own any nickel-plated copper, but it should perform admirably. The most traded makers of nickel-plated vintage pans are Wagner and Griswold, but there were some high-end makers like Jos. Heinrichs whose pans are also coming up from time to time. I have a friend who has a Heinrichs saute, and he loves it. The lining of his pan looks much like your Gaillard. I also have a book on French copper that features a reproduction ad for an unknown maker that indicates a nickel-plated line (how's your French? "Queue fer nickele"?); it may well be Gaillard.

            The old plated cast-iron pans almost never come up with their linings completely intact. I do not know if this is because of an inherent weakness in plating cast iron, or that they were tortured for decades with steel utensils.

            Hope this helps,

            1. re: kaleokahu

              Thanks for the info K! Unfortunately, my French is terrible. I spent way too much time studying old dead languages.

              As I was not concerned about damaging any tin, I made a little BKF slurry and smeared it on the inside of the pot, and all that black staining dissolved away (basically without any scrubbing). Seeing the lining without the staining made me believe that it is probably stainless. Now that it is clean, it looks like stainless, and as I look closer at the lid, I'm certain that it at the least is a bi-metal construction. Additionally, the lid lining and the pot have an identical appearance and both bear characteristic brush marks.

              This whole thing is a bit comical. I sold my only stainless-lined pan to buy this one (because I wanted a 6 Quart Casserole and because I decided I enjoyed the tin-lined stuff a little more than the stainless), and I inadvertently wound up with another stainless-lined pot. I didn't give it any more than a passing thought that a Gaillard could be any thing but tin-lined!

              On a related note, there has been some question about whether there were ever any 3+mm bimetal pots. While we may not be absolutely certain about mine (even if I am quite convinced at the moment), Jim at East Coast just sold a 3.2mm stainless-lined Dehillerin 11"x6.5" Casserole. Fifth pot down on this link: I called him about it, but I missed it by about 2 hours.



        2. Put a magnet up to it. I believe there may be some magnetic alloys of nickel, ferronickel, Monel etc. Maybe it is steel, but not as thick and a different alloy than the bimetal currently manufactured by Falk. Pure tin, (as well as copper,) is non-ferrous, and thus, non-magnetic.

          5 Replies
          1. re: hobhover

            It is magnetic. My little magnet will easily hang on the side wall of the pot (inside or outside.) The lid is magnetic as well.

            So, that must mean it is not tin. So how can I determine whether it is nickel or stainless?

            1. re: jljohn

              You will know if it is stainless or nickel the first time you use it. Take a chicken carcass and some pepper and stuff, and boil it for an hour or two. When you get ready to clean up your pan, put some hot water and dish soap in it and let it sit for a few minutes. Wash it with a plain sponge. If it comes out shiny, it is stainless. If it is discolored again, it is nickel. If it is nickel, don't scrub it with a brillo pad, treat it like tin and it will outlast you many times over.

              1. re: hobhover

                Hi, hobhover:

                I think you're right, and if it's nickel, Jeremy should also refrain from BKF.


                1. re: hobhover

                  After I cleaned it up, I used it to cook down several pounds of Autumn Olives for a jam, and it washed up (no discoloration) with just a soapy sponge. It probably only simmered for 45 minutes though.

                  Should I expect Nickel to darken like tin over time, or does it just hold stains more firmly than stainless?

                  I only broke down and used the BKF to see what was underneath that staining, and fortunately I didn't have to scrub at it.



              2. re: hobhover

                Also, the rivets are magnetic--exhibiting a stronger pull than the lining.

                And there is a very definite center point in the bottom middle of the pan with radiating brush marks.

              3. Hi Jeremy, I am trying to work out dates & the different markings that Gaillard used and would love to see a photo of the makers mark on this. Also if anyone can shed light on the history of Gaillards production that would be great as info is very hard to find.
                cheers, Nathan

                4 Replies
                1. re: nathan76

                  Hi, Nathan:

                  Do you speak or write French? You might want to start with "Les Cuivres du Cuisines" by Jean-Claude Renard. This book may not answer your question directly, but it has an extensive list of resources and bibliography.

                  Good Luck,

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    thanks Kaleo, My french is basic although I have been meaning to get this book since you recommended it few months ago, also I need to ask vin @ old copper too. will update when I find some info. cheers, Nathan

                  2. re: nathan76

                    I'd love to see the result of your research--it's so hard to find any info on Gaillard.

                    Here's the mark:

                    1. re: jljohn

                      Thanks for the quick photo reply jeremy and i will keep you posted with my results. Your mark looks the same as a confiture/jam pan that is on its way to me and I am told it was a retirement gift brand new to a french chef in the 60,s - 70,s. I enclose a photo of marking from my gaillard saucepan that seems much older - the mark is almost the same but different somehow from yours and confiture pan. there is also the gaillard mark that says J&E Gaillard and has the paris address. There is a set of gaillard pans just listed on ebay uk with same marking as yours but steel looking rivets on cast iron and more machined looking edges.
                      Would like to put the puzzle together! any input would be great from other gaillard owners.
                      cheers, Nathan