Brasses were not made of brass as we know it today. The early Brasses were made of an alloy of two thirds copper and one third zinc with a sprinkling of lead and tin thrown in for good measure. The resulting alloy was called Laten or Laton. The first Laten was manufactured in an area of Germany named Ceulon, now known as Cologne, this name was gradually turned into Cullen and thus was born Cullen Plate. This material was shipped to England in sheets of a manageable size for English craftsmen to turn into the Memorial Brasses that were laid in churches the length and breadth of our country. Some Memorial Brasses were larger than the plates so plates had to be butted up to each other for the work to be completed. The finished Brass was then fixed to the stone slab with pitch or with copper rivets.
For some modern day Metallurgical facts about brass then point your browser at http://www.copper.org/properties/standard-designations/cast-brasses.htm for details of cast alloys and http://www.copper.org/properties/standard-designations/wrought-brasses.htm for details of wrought alloys.
If all this has fired you with enthusiasm to learn more, then have a look at http://users.ox.ac.uk/%/Esalter/hms where you will find the Historical Metallurgy Societies WWW pages. These pages have a veritable treasure trove of links to other useful sites of interest to the amateur and professional Metallurgist.
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