Copper and its Alloys

Copper has been an essential material to man since prehistoric times. In fact, one of the major 'ages' or stages of human history is named after a copper alloy: bronze.

Copper was the first metal used by man in any quantity. The earliest workers in copper soon found that it could be easily hammered into sheets and the sheets in turn worked into shapes which became more complex as their skill increased.

After the introduction of bronze, a wide range of castings also became possible. Many of the illustrations on this site serve to show man's progress as a metal-worker, culminating in the priceless inheritance of the Renaissance craftsmen. But copper and its principal alloys, bronze and brass, have always been more than a means of decorative embellishment.

Although iron became the basic metal of every Western civilisation from Rome onwards, it was the copper metals which were used when a combination of strength and durability was required. The ability to resist corrosion ensured that copper, bronze and brass remained as both functional and decorative materials during the Middle Ages and the successive centuries through the Industrial Revolution and on to the present day.
Copper: The Metal of Civilisation (Timeline)
Click here to view an interactive version.
Related ResourcesHere are related resources.  To browse and search all resources, visit the Resource Library.
    Sixty Centuries of Copper
    education, history, mining, schools
    This book by B Webster Smith replaces 'Copper Through the Ages' issued in 1934. It is intended for those interested in the history of copper mining, the development of metal-working processes and the uses of copper through the past six thousand years.
    Pub 121 - Copper - The Vital Metal
    £ 0.00
    coppers, alloys, applications, history, schools
    An illustrated introduction to the history, metallurgy, production, and applications of copper and copper alloys. (Revision of Book 1). 1998. 42pp.
    Pub 117 - The Brasses - Properties and Applications
    £ 0.00
    Design and manufacture
    alloys, applications, brass, form, high vacuum, history, Industry, manufacturing, nickel silver, property, standards
    Compositions and properties of standard brasses in wrought and cast condition, together with details of BS and European Standards, forms available, fabrication methods and examples of typical applications. 2005. 64pp.
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