The first mining charter granted in America, actually granted in one of the thirteen colonies that would later become the United States of America, was granted to mine copper in Connecticut.
In 1709, a town meeting concerning mining was held in Simsbury, Connecticut. The local proprietors formed an association and the result would lead to the first mining charter ever granted in America, or, as they were still part of Britain at the time, the thirteen colonies. Colonists in the early 1700’s were not permitted to own a forge, produce any metal or mine for any minerals. All commodities during this time period were to be purchased from Britain. In fact, even after the mine was opened, the copper ore that was mined had to be shipped to England for smelting. However, the cost of shipping, along with risk of theft, capture and shipwrecks, made this unprofitable for Britain.
The first mine operated in Simsbury exporting 15,000 pounds over its first 23 years. However, over the next 20 years the mine experienced a slowdown. In 1773, the miners realize that the caverns of the mine were inescapable and decided to turn the mine into a prison where criminals could be confined while mining the ore. Newgate Prison was opened at the copper mine in 1773, and in 1786 the land became part of Granby, Connecticut. In 1790, Newgate Prison became the state prison of Connecticut until it closed 37 years later. Today, this area in Granby is known as Copper Hill.
Connecticut’s land is rich with minerals and many types of mining operations have opened in our state throughout the years. During the 1800’s and early 1900’s brass, an alloy of copper, became prevalent and the favored choice of metal smiths. Connecticut’s Naugatuck Valley became known as “The Brass Valley” due to the many manufactures in the region.
Copper is great for conducting heat, so it was used to make many cooking pots and kettles. Antique copperware can be polished to look new, or left with subtle tarnishes to give an antique feel. Antique copperware make lovely household decor items and are excellent for re-purposing projects. The Past Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a large collection of antique copperware and vintage copper products available for purchase. To see The PAST Antiques’ full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles, visit Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.
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