Alloy traditionally composed of copper and tin. Bronze was first made before 3000 BC (see Bronze Age) and is still widely used, though iron often replaced bronze in tools and weapons after about 1000 BC because of iron's abundance compared to copper and tin. Bronze is harder than copper, more readily melted, and easier to cast. It is also harder than iron and far more resistant to corrosion. Bell metal (which produces pleasing sounds when struck) is bronze with 20–25% tin content. Statuary bronze, with less than 10% tin and an admixture of zinc and lead, is technically a brass. The addition of less than 1% phosphorus improves the hardness and strength of bronze; that formulation is used for pump plungers, valves, and bushings. Also useful in mechanical engineering are manganese bronzes, with little or no tin but considerable amounts of zinc and up to 4.5% manganese. Aluminum bronzes, containing up to 16% aluminum and small amounts of other metals such as iron or nickel, are especially strong and corrosion-resistant; they are cast or wrought into pipe fittings, pumps, gears, ship propellers, and turbine blades. Most “copper” coins are actually bronze, typically with about 4% tin and 1% zinc, or copper plating over base metal.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on bronze, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up bronze? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.