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"French Gray" is an old finish. I believe it was originally just a fine matte surface, not a coating but today its usually a matte nickel plate. Probably it was a basic A-5 with the blue stripped chemically, leaving a "pickled" finish surface, then rubbed to a fine matte finish, a good base for engraving. here's a link to a discussion of french gray techniques: http://www.igraver.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-84.html
 
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