Belgium, Medal, Léopold Ier
- Country: Belgium
- Denomination: Medal
- Year: Undated
- Composition: Copper
- Diameter: 28
- Coin edge: adjusted
Copper might not be classed a precious metal but still falls into group 11 of the periodic table alongside gold and silver. Three metals frequently used to mint coins. Why, you might ask? Whilst there is no doubt that silver and gold are precious, copper is more common. It oxidizes little upon contact with air and both its visual appeal and availability in its natural state are also undeniable aspects.
Furthermore, copper is one of the oldest metals to have been worked by humans. There is evidence of it having been used almost 8,000 years ago.
The melting of copper began in the wind furnaces of the Iranian plateau around 5000 BC.
As is often the case with coins, its first known use was in Greece in a few centuries BC. It was also used for the Chinese cash issued for the first time by the Qin dynasty (221 to 206 BC).
The word copper comes from the Latin cŭprĕum, in other words Cyprus, the main source of the mineral in antiquity. Copper naturally has a reddish-orange color and, to add a touch of polytheism, is traditionally dedicated to the goddess of beauty Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans).
Copper’s patina is generally verdigris.