Antiques & Auctions: Versatile Metal Values with Age; BRONZE: Natural Patina Created over Time Is Difficult to Imitate and Is Highly Prized

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Byline: RYAN BEACH

THE metal bronze has been known to mankind since around 3000 BC, when the art of bronze founding was developed in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

In Crete archaeologists have unearthed small statuettes, busts and utensils for domestic purposes, often embellished with other precious metals, which date from around 2000 BC.

The Chinese have been making bronze figures and using the material itself since the 15th Century BC and the Japanese since the 3rd century AD. the Chinese and Japanese had been fashioning both domestic utensils and purely decorative items for centuries prior to their discovery in the Western world in the 19th Century.

In Europe we do not really see extensive use of bronze until the late 17th and 18th Centuries. Furniture makers such as Andre Charles Boulle started to incorporate it in designs, other makers started using it as a medium for handles, locks and mouldings on furniture and in the 19th Century we see the sculptures and artists come into their own, with animalia images, bronze statues and bronzes mixed with other materials such as ivory, gold and silver. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. It is a desirable medium to artists and craftsmen mainly due to the fact that it has a low melting point of 1,083 degrees centigrade. It is suitable for casting, is particularly hard and when fresh from the foundry has a brilliance and sheen not dissimilar to gold.

The alloy percentage of copper and tin varies greatly with regard to its uses. Over the centuries, bronze has been used for the production of coins, bells, machine parts, gears, bearings etc as well as its use as a decorative medium. …