Historically, brass has been known to be an alloy of copper and zinc. Brass was not the easiest concept to conceive as it was a process that required industrial levels of heat. The copper, bronze, and iron ages came and went through heavy transitions, but the involvement of zinc in brass made the ‘brass age’ come later. Zinc melts at 420ºC and boils at about 950ºC, so it wasn’t easy to mix it with copper to create the alloy.
Brass and the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution speed up the production and prominence of brass to a huge extent. William Champion, a British metallurgist, procured a patent for the production of zinc from the distillation of charcoal. A similar trend was followed in America by Joseph Jenk. 1832 saw the introduction of 60/40 brass which made the alloy a lot cheaper and easy to procure for both the making of utensils and large-scale production. This in cohesion with the development of shipping and water trade brought brass production and use around the world to a massive influx, which made it a norm throughout the globe all along the 19th century. Places that had never heard of the alloy now had access to it and were using it for various purposes.
Products of Brass Work
The most important function of brass as a material is to resist corrosion and lower friction. Brass changed the game for engineering as it was used as the constructing material or covering for instruments like hinges, screws, plugs, valves, bearings, and gears. Its chemical composition made it an innovation unlike any other. Brass is also highly ductile and forms easily, so it is extremely useful in making many household goods. Its decorative uses include toilet fixtures, door handles, cabinet casings, and utensils. Brass also plays a pivotal role in the making of many musical instruments. Trumpets, trombones, French horns, and tubas are some very popular brass instruments.
Brass in Pakistan
Brass and copper have been in production and used heavily in the Northern areas of Pakistan since the Mughal Era. Brass pieces were liked for their ductility, malleability, and diverse purposes. The Mughals were fond of decorative products like brass structures, utensils, and vases. Reflections of this can be seen by the contemporary brass artisan of Pakistan, who is engaged in creating brass products like vases, ashtrays, statues, lamps, jars, dishes, and other brass-coated goods. Karachi has a whole street called ‘Peetal Galli’ dedicated to artisans and brass work.