A Copper Alliance Member
Reclothing the First Lady of Metals – Reclothed Lady
All that remained, now, was considerations for the copper skin, itself.
Measurements made for the restoration’s engineering analysis showed that the copper corrosion rate over its first 100 years was only 5%. The corrosion mechanism for copper is early oxidation over the first 10-25 years and then stabilization, once a patina is fully formed. Although some areas of the patina were formed darker than others, this was not the result of a different corrosion rate. Rather, it was thought to be due to erosion of the patina in certain spots. In other words – strictly cosmetic.
The restoration team, after a careful and thorough examination, decided not to disturb the existing patina. Where coal tar had seeped out from the interior, they used dentil drills and other tools to remove it carefully. For the accumulation of a 100 years of weathering grit and grime, they used pressurized fresh water only.
There were some few areas where liquids had accumulated and caused abnormal corrosion, and other areas that had been mechanically damaged. Those areas were patched.
The corroded copper was cut away. New copper of the same thickness was then installed either by riveting or brazing. And, then, the patch was artificially patinated with a copper sulfate solution to match the surrounding area.
CDA is proud to have part an integral part of the Lady’s restoration team. Paul Anderson, now retired, summed up the copper side of the task. He said: “Replacing the copper flame and restoring the torch was about all the copper work required. Despite a century of abuse, the statue’s copper skin was virtually intact, losing less than 5-thousandths of an inch (0.005”) in one of the most hostile environments imaginanable.”
So when you come right down to it, the First Lady of the Metals was not really reclothed. Her insides did undergo quite a bit of orthopedic surgery. In fact, a nearly full skeletal replacement.And, her flame was rekindled with new copper. But, as for her clothes: she has only few patches after more than a hundred years of wear.
That’s pretty good quality clothing.
So, on behalf of the copper industry, here's a commercial message from your First Lady:
Copper was clearly a good idea 100 years ago. Now, with advances in technology, copper is an even better idea today:
- Copper for beauty.
- Copper for warmth.
- Copper for carefree maintenance.
- Copper for the ages.
We’re kind of proud of that testimonial to copper.
For additional details on the fascinating history of the Lady, please check out the National Park Service bookstore on Liberty Island on your next visit there or visit the National Park Service Web site for additional articles. Another excellent source is the 1986 PBS television documentary by Ken Burns. Of particular interest to you may be the Architectural and Engineering Report that was done for the French-American Committee for the Restoration of the Statue of Liberty, in 1983.
The CDA web site provides many other resources for people interested in learning more about copper and its alloys.
Take a look at Innovations - our on-line magazine.
Please also check out Copper In Your Home - a section dedicated to consumers, with a special section just for kids!
If you need metallurgical or properties information, take a look at the Standards & Properties section.