by C. F. William Maurer
Archaeological evidence suggests that copper is among the earliest metals used by humans. Numerous digs all over the world indicate that copper was used to make utensils, jewelry, and weapons. The metal is highly ductile, meaning that it can be easily worked and pulled into wire. For cultures which had minimal or crude metalworking abilities, copper would have been easy to shape and work with. Copper is also easy to alloy, and many of the early metal alloys featured copper.
The name for the metal comes from Kyprios, the Ancient Greek name for Cyprus, an island which had highly productive copper mines in the Ancient world. The atomic number of copper is 29, placing it among the transition metals. The metal is highly conductive of both electricity and heat, and many of copper’s uses take advantage of this quality. Copper can be found in numerous electronics and in wiring. It is also used to make cooking pots. Copper is also relatively corrosion resistant, since it forms a patina which resists oxidation. For this reason, copper is often mixed with other metals to form alloys such as bronze and brass. possession.
One of the more desirable forms of patina have to do with the gradual development of a brown or green film on metal objects. Due to exposure to open air and the natural process of oxidation, an aged metal such as copper and bronze tend to develop a patina that is often a pleasing shade of green. Domes and roofs on buildings that feature sections of copper tend to develop this green shade over a number of years. The patina is often anticipated in the original design of the structure and is an effect that the owners look forward to taking place over time.
It has been widely rumored that the copper used in the building of the Statue of Liberty in New Jersey came from Visnes Copper Mines at Karmoy near Stavanger in Norway. In the autumn of 1985 copper from the statue was analyzed and it has now been confirmed that it was indeed extracted at Visnes.
Historical records make no mention of the source of the copper used in the construction of the Statue of Liberty, although a local tradition suggests that the copper came from the French-owned Visnes Mine near Stavanger, Norway. Records show that ore from this mine, refined in France and Belgium, was a significant source of European copper in the late nineteenth century. To investigate further the origin of the statue`s copper, “Bell Laboratories” in New Jersey, USA, have analyzed the samples of copper from the Visnes Mines and from the Statue of Liberty by emission spectography. A comparison of the presence and concentration of metallic impurities show the two samples to be very similar, and a review of historical and geographical information on possible suppliers of the copper suggests that the Visnes Mine is a very likely source. “Bell Laboratories” conclude that it is highly probable that the copper from the Visnes Mine was used for the Statue of Liberty, and that the metallurgical evidence argues strongly that the copper comes from Norway.