It has been widely rumored that the copper used in the building of the Statue of Liberty in New Jersey came from . In the autumn of 1985 copper from the statue was analyzed and it has now been confirmed that it was indeed extracted at Visnes. Historical records make no mention of the source of the copper used in the construction of the Statue of Liberty, although a local tradition suggests that the copper came from the French-owned Visnes Mine near Stavanger, Norway. Records show that ore from this mine, refined in France and Belgium, was a significant source of European copper in the late nineteenth century.
To investigate further the origin of the statue`s copper, "Bell Laboratories" in New Jersey, USA, have analyzed the samples of copper from the Visnes Mines and from the Statue of Liberty by emission spectography. A comparison of the presence and concentration of metallic impurities show the two samples to be very similar, and a review of historical and geographical information on possible suppliers of the copper suggests that the Visnes Mine is a very likely source. "Bell Laboratories" conclude that it is highly probable that the copper from the Visnes Mine was used for the Statue of Liberty, and that the metallurgical evidence argues strongly that the copper comes from Norway. The statue is 50 m high and some 80 metric tons of copper was required for its fabrication. It is probable that few projects before or since the Statue`s construction in 1876-1885 ever required as much copper.
In the 1870`s one of the most active of the Norwegian copper mines was at Visnes, a community situated on the island of Karmoy on the west coast. The copper at this site was discovered in 1865 and the mine constructed under the direction of Charles Defrance, a French mining engineer. Defrance was employed by a mining company in Antwerp, Belgium. This company owned ore processing plants in France and Belgium and a refinery at Hemixen, Belgium (near Antwerp).
The corporation formed to develop the Visnes ore body, Sociètè des Mines et Usines de Cuivre de Visnes, used the same processing and refining facilities, but had its headquarters in Paris. During the 1865-1890 period the Visnes ore, a high grade pyrite-complex copper ore with zinc, was shipped to sulfuric acid plants in Dunkirk, France and Antwerp, Belgium. The location of the Visnes mine on the North Sea made transportation of the ore relatively convenient.
Other Statue of Liberty topics: Auguste Bartholdi, Construction, Copper, Corrosion, History, Head, Introduction, Model, Picture, Postcard, Restoration, Symbolism
Other landmarks: Christ the Redeemer, Colossus, Delhi pillar, Eiffel tower, Golden Gate bridge, Great Buddha, Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), Guggenheim Museum (NYC), Normandy bridge, Oresund crossing, Quebec Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Thames Barrier, Titanic, Tower of the Orologio