The alloy of copper and nickel, called cupronickel, is used in low-denomination coins, often for the outer cladding. The US five-cent coin (currently called a nickel) consists of 75% copper and 25% nickel in homogeneous composition. Prior to the introduction of cupronickel, which was widely adopted by countries in the latter half of the 20th century, alloys of copper and silver were also used, with the United States using an alloy of 90% silver and 10% copper until 1965, when circulating silver was removed from all coins with the exception of the Half dollar - these were debased to an alloy of 40% silver and 60% copper between 1965 and 1970. The alloy of 90% copper and 10% nickel, remarkable for its resistance to corrosion, is used for various objects exposed to seawater, though it is vulnerable to the sulfides sometimes found in polluted harbors and estuaries. Alloys of copper with aluminium (about 7%) have a golden color and are used in decorations. Shakudō is a Japanese decorative alloy of copper containing a low percentage of gold, typically 4–10%, that can be patinated to a dark blue or black color.

Copper is one of the few metals that can occur in nature in a directly usable metallic form ( native metals ). This led to very early human use in several regions, from c. 8000 BC. Thousands of years later, it was the first metal to be smelted from sulfide ores, c. 5000 BC, the first metal to be cast into a shape in a mold, c. 4000 BC and the first metal to be purposefully alloyed with another metal, tin , to create bronze , c. 3500 BC. [4]

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