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.