The History of Copper

Copper is a ubiquitous material, used for countless applications both large and small. From wiring our homes to the jewellery we wear, copper is a metal with myriad uses, withstanding years of technical and technological innovations and developments. But what is the history of this incredibly useful material and how has its use changed over the years? JTC Roofing are going to tell you all you need to know.



Copper milestones

  • Copper has been used by humans for over 10,000 years – it’s estimated that it was first used between 9000 BC and 3500 BC. When it was discovered, it became apparent that it was easily malleable – it could be hammered into different forms to suit various requirements.
  • Between 3500 BC and 1500 BC, bronze became the most widely-used metal. But in the Middle Ages, copper surged in popularity, due in no small part to the invention of printing as copper was particularly well-suited to printing plates.
  • In 1793, copper coins began production. Initially, coins were 100% copper. Over time, their makeup changed to include other metals. In 1943, zinc-plated steel coins were used. Since 1982,  1p and 2p coins consist of zinc-plated copper.
  • Cornwall was a hub of copper mining, with production hitting its peak in 1856. As of today, copper is no longer mined in Cornwall. 


Modern Uses for Copper

Today, copper is used for such a variety of things that it’s hard to pick a few examples. Here are some of the more common uses, as well as few surprising ones. 


Copper roofing

Copper boasts a number of benefits as a roofing material. It’s very long-lasting and requires relatively low maintenance when compared to other roofing types, and the colour is very striking, which helps to improve the aesthetics of any building. As copper is lightweight, it’s easily transported and installed, too.


Motor parts

Copper has a range of properties that makes it highly suitable for various motor parts. It has excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, and strong resistance to corrosion. The thermal conductivity makes it ideal for car radiators, and the electrical conductivity is suitable for wiring in car motors.



As copper can be hammered and stretched, it is used for wiring around the world, from wiring in homes to cables for data transmission. Its aforementioned electrical conductivity is obviously an extremely important property for wiring.



Believe it or not, copper is used in even the most glamorous of jewellery. 18 carat gold is often alloyed with copper – this is because copper’s ductility (how well it can be stretched and manipulated) improves the gold’s hardness, colour, flexibility and corrosion resistance.

The usefulness of copper cannot be overstated. It plays a part in everybody’s life, whether we know it or not. From spare change to the cables in our computers, copper is vital to so many things. Despite all the technological advancements the world has seen, copper hasn’t been outmoded yet. 


JTC Roofing are expert installers of copper, zinc, stainless steel and lead roofing for customers around the UK from our Leicester base. No matter the size of the property or scale of the project, you can rely on us to deliver the highest standard of service from start to finish. Contact us today to find out more.


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