You may have heard the recent story about a pair of "mystery" bronze sculptures that depicted male figures riding panthers. While there were long-standing rumors that these sculptures were created by Michelangelo, they were generally discredited until a team of experts from a variety of fields did some amazing detective work to conclusively determine that Michelangelo did indeed create these bronze sculptures in the early 16th century. A link to one article can be found here:
This story is a good reminder of the extensive background associated with bronze, one of the primary materials we use to create our sculpture awards. It is fun and fascinating to work with a material that has such a rich and storied history. The metal, in fact, lent it's name to an entire era in our world history: The Bronze Age.
While there are no definitive records as to when bronze was first used, the earliest bronze artifact that used the current alloy composition (copper and tin) dates back to 4,500 BC. Initially, bronze, which is a metal alloy, consisted to copper and arsenic (yes, like the poison). However, tin replaced arsenic due to the fact that it resulted in a harder metal, and was also easier to cast. Today, bronze is approximately 88% copper and 12% tin.
Cultures began to broadly use bronze for weapons, armor and building materials because it represented a harder, more durable material that other options available (stone, straight copper). The aesthetic elements of bronze also made it appealing: it could be polished to a shiny gold color, or colored through a process of patination.
These, in fact, are some of the same properties that make it a great choice for many of our awards today!