Picture of the Day: A griffin. This one lives at the MET and is gilt bronze. The process of creating it involved melting gold and mercury together. In a closed room. Yes, the artists went a little crazy from the fumes. This griffin is a candle holder, and if you look in the back, you can see part of a water spigot.
Griffins are one of the creatures I go to when I visit the MET to try to trace their development over the centuries. Very probably stories of Griffins came from China, where there are dinosaur bone deposits (and gold).