Gold is so soft that it can be moulded with the hands, so to make it usable a small amount of copper is added. Even twenty-four carat gold contains some copper.
New York's Statue of Liberty is sheathed in more than 80 tonnes of copper mined in Norway and fabricated by French craftsmen.
To protect them from barnacles and other kinds of bio-fouling, the ships in which Columbus sailed to the Americas were fitted with copper skins below the water line. Today, a copper-containing coating is applied to most seagoing vessels to provide similar protection to the hull.
One of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls found in Israel is made of copper instead of more fragile animal skins. The scroll contains no religious writings but only clues to still undiscovered treasures.
Copper is a natural antibacterial, and so inhibits the spread of bacteria in water and air distribution systems made from it. In the same way, brass doorknobs, handrails and fingerplates in public buildings can help to minimise risk of bacterial transfer.
Tools made from copper or copper alloys will not cause a spark, and thus are used wherever there may be a danger of explosion.
A copper coating applied to a surgeon's scalpel conducts electricity to heat the blade, rendering the instrument self-cauterising.
Copper's exceptional resistance to corrosion is invaluable in many inhospitable environments - not least in deep-sea oil and gas exploration and extraction. Sweden's nuclear authority is to encapsulate spent nuclear fuel in canisters protected by copper five centimetres thick. These canisters are required to remain effective for at least a hundred thousand years, but are expected to last even ten times as long.
Scores of lives and huge sums of money could be saved each year if buildings were properly protected against lightning strikes. A copper earthing system is all that is required.
It is estimated that about 80% of the copper humanity has ever produced is still in use. It will continue to be recycled over and over again without any effect on its properties.