Selling metal can be a great way to bring in some extra money. There are a lot of factors that go into the valuation of metal, including the type and quality. When selling bronze, it’s important to have an understanding of what bronze is, how it differs from brass, and how casting methods affect the value. Below, we have what you need to know about selling bronze, including what it is, how to identify it, how much it’s worth, and where to sell it.
What Is Bronze?
To understand what bronze is, we need to understand what an alloy is. An alloy is a metal made by combining two or more other metals. Bronze is an alloy of primarily copper, with a percentage of tin. Historically, bronze has also been an alloy of copper and aluminum, or silicon, lead, or phosphorus. But copper and tin yield the best alloy.
You may wonder why anyone went around mixing metals together in the first place. In the case of bronze, people found copper too soft and malleable and tin too brittle to be made into tools or sculptures. But when the two were combined to make bronze, the material was much sturdier. It was a popular material for weapons in ancient times. Once it corrodes and turns green, it can be melted down and recycled.
What Is Brass?
When learning about how to sell bronze, it’s also important to know about the qualities of brass, as brass and bronze are very similar substances. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.
Since bronze can be made from copper and a number of other elements, all at varying percentages, these variances become bronze alloys. Here are some examples.
- Tin bronze is bronze that has a tin content of 0.5% to 1% and a phosphorus content of 0.01% to 0.35%.
- Aluminum bronze contains aluminum, iron, and nickel.
- Silicon bronze contains silicon and zinc.
- Nickel brass is considered a bronze alloy, as is copper nickel.
- Arsenical bronze, made of copper and arsenic.
- Bell metal, made of copper and tin.
- Florentine bronze, made of copper and aluminum or tin.
- Glucydur, made of copper, tin, and beryllium.
- Guanin, made of copper, manganese, and iron sulfides.
- Ormolu, or Gilt bronze, made of copper and zinc.
- Speculum metal, made of copper and tin.
Obviously, the term “bronze” is quite general. This is important to understand when trying to determine how much bronze is worth. It all depends on what’s inside.
There are also a number of brass alloys, for example:
- Red brass, a copper, zinc, and tin alloy, also known as 85/15 brass.
- Yellow brass, which is 33% zinc.
- Admiralty brass, which is 30% zinc and 1% tin.
- Alpha brass, which is 60.66% copper, 36.58% zinc, 1.02% tin, and 1.74% iron.
- Aluminum brass
- Arsenical brass
- Beta brass, which contains 40-50% zinc.
- Cartridge brass, which contains 30% zinc brass.
- Common brass, which contains 37% zinc brass.
- High brass, which is 65% copper and 25% zinc.
- Lead-free brass, which contains no more than 0.25% lead.
- Manganese brass, which contains 70% copper, 29% zinc, and 1.3% manganese.
- Naval brass, which contains 40% zinc and 1% tin.
- Nickel brass, which contains 70% copper, 24.5% zinc, and 5.5% nickel.
Hot-cast vs. Cold-cast
There are two main types of bronze sculptures according to casting procedure: hot-cast and cold-cast. Hot-cast bronze is twice as expensive to mold as cold-cast bronze, so it may sell better. If you don’t want to pay for an expert opinion, here are some techniques to determine if your statue was hot-cast or cold-cast. First, heft the sculpture to get a feel for the weight. Hot-cast bronze sculptures will be very heavy, while cold-cast ones will be lighter. BronzeArtwork.com estimates that a one-foot tall bronze sculpture will weigh one to two pounds if it’s cold-cast and 6 to 10 pounds if it’s hot-cast. Another thing you can do is tap the sculpture where it’s hollow and listen to the sound that emanates. If the sculpture was hot-cast, it will produce a ringing sound, and if it was cold-cast, it will sound more like a dull thud.
How Much Is Bronze Worth?
So how much is bronze worth? How much is bronze worth per pound/ounce? After all, that information about alloys isn’t something you need to memorize. It just explains why some scrap bronze is cheaper or more expensive than others: bronze can be made out of a lot of different ingredients, and not all ingredients are worth the same price.
The price of scrap bronze per pound/per ounce is going to vary based on the type of alloy and the state of the market. There are also many scrap companies that buy and sell at different prices. Brass plumping will sell for about $.90 to $1.00 per pound. Some bronze buyers buy bronze at $1.28 per pound. Many price brass gun shells at 75 cents per pound. A scrap brass water meter may sell for fifty cents to $1.10, and brass pipes or plumbing at $1.08 per pound. So how much is bronze worth? It depends on your location but the above gives you a pretty good idea of prices.
Scrap Brass Pricing Per Pound
Scrap Monster lists an historical pricing of scrap brass since October of 2012. The most current price of scrap 70/30 brass (also known as cartridge brass) is between $1.31-$1.33 per pound, depending on where you are in the United States. 80/20 brass (phosphor bronze) will sell for $1.54 per pound in North America. Scrap Monster puts brass radiator scrap prices at $1.15 per pound, while others prices scrap at $1.38. So, depending on where you are in the U.S. and what company you sell to, prices are going to vary.
Red brass scrap will sell for $1.44 per pound, as of June 2016. Yellow brass will sell for $1.31 per pound.
Scrap Monster provides a price calculator at the bottom of every individual scrap page. The best policy for determining scrap price is to call the scrap yards in your area and see who offers the best price.
How to Identify Bronze
Don’t bother getting scrap bronze price estimates if you’re unsure about what kind of scrap metal you have; don’t hesitate to consult an expert at your local scrap yard. Otherwise, here are some identifying factors to help you know you have a piece of bronze or brass. First, bronze is a yellow-ish brown color and is usually found in instruments, fluid manifolds, pipe valves, or decorative pieces. Bismuth bronze can be found in mirrors or light reflectors. Brass is found in many decorative pieces like candlesticks, doorknobs, or kitchenware, as well as in instruments. Because of its color, brass is often used as an imitation gold, so anything gold-appearing in your home is likely made from brass. If you have a metal that is more reddish-brown than gold, it’s probably copper.
How Much Bronze Is Worth Compared to Other Metals?
There are two categories of metal to consider when selling: ferrous and non-ferrous, the latter being more valuable than the former. You can use a basic magnet to determine the category to which your scrap belongs. If the magnet sticks to the metal, the metal is ferrous. If the magnet doesn’t stick, the metal is non-ferrous. Some examples of ferrous metals are steel and iron. Non-ferrous metals include brass, aluminum, copper, and stainless steel. Scrap yards will recycle any metal, ferrous or non-ferrous; you just may not get as good a price for the ferrous ones. Across the board, copper is typically the most valuable scrap. Scrap bronze price just doesn’t hold the same value.
Where to Sell Bronze
You can sell your scrap with the iScrap App or at your local scrap yard. There are also many online scrap buyers like United Scrap and Scrap Metal Forum. You can find more through RecycleInMe.
How to Make the Most Money Selling Bronze
If you want to make money selling bronze, look to acquire and sell bronze sculptures. Bronze sculptures are common art items and prices can vary from relatively cheap to several thousand dollars. This depends on how old the sculpture is, the quality of the bronze, and the casting process. Normally, the older the sculpture, the more valuable it will be if it’s in good condition. However, tastes can differ, so while one buyer insists on a polished, solid-color finish, another buyer may like the rusted, corroded look. If you think you have a bronze sculpture, double check with an art expert and have them appraise it. You can find art experts at universities, libraries, art galleries, or auction sites. Value My Stuff is a great resource for online art appraisals, as is Appraise Art.
Bronze is an alloy made primarily of copper. It can also include tin, aluminum, silicon, lead, or phosphorus. While they are similar, bronze and brass have varied alloys and are valued differently, with brass being the slightly more expensive of the two. Your exact valuation will depend on the type of metal you’re selling and where in the U.S. you are located, but you can easily sell your scrap at a local scrap yard, through an app, or through an online buyer.
For more information on selling metals, see our articles: Price of Scrap Metal Recycling per Pound, per Ton + What Else to Know and Scrap Copper Prices per Pound/Ton/Ounce/Gram (Scrap, Wire, Pipe…).