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» Paddle wheels
» The forge workshop
» Embossing
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» The copperware
» The copper


This ancestral factory (the workshops are in activity since 1854) suggests you one hour commented visits to know better this true industrial patrimony and the history of its profession.

1st part: Musexpo of Copper

To have knowledge of Copper:
Ore: extraction, producer countries, treatment…
Development of Copper, Obtaining semi-finished products (bars, tubes, sheets…)
The history of the implementation: “of the age of Bronze at our days”
To discover a whole collection of old parts Tools old handbooks, parts of goldsmithery…,
To discover the techniques of working and the appearance of Mechanization: Hydraulic power (paddle wheels, system of transmission…)
The first machines (drilling machines, beams, staplers, rolling devices, lathes to be polished, machine hammers…)
Presentation of the Forging mill: An essential tool for the welding, annealing, the patina…

2nd part: workshops

All the machines, invented and installed at the Copper factory since 1854, are introduced in operating state, and most of them, pulled by paddle wheels, are always used. These Workshops tell you at the same time the history of their company during one century of Mechanization, and a remarkable profession's through the ages.

To discover a very old profession: Dinanderie
The dinandier manufactures objects (cauldrons, jugs, let us poęlons,…) by hand, starting from copper sheets that he deforms, by hitting with hammers and mallets on Heaps.

To discover the Techniques of the past, the present and the future
You will attend to demonstrations on authentic machines and still used today for the production of the Copper factory.
“The Embossing with the Turn”
“The Stamping on the Press”
“The tinning of the pans”
“The Assembly Technics”
“The Finishing operations: brushing, polishing, patina with old…”

3rd part: Innovation
Permanent display about 2 topics: “Copper in the building” and “Copper and the French Culinary Tradition.”

The visit ends with the Store of the Copper factory, where you will discover many decorative and culinary Coppers, Tin and Brass articles.

Documentation available on request by email

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In 1854
Charles Eugene Main creates his company with its 2 sons Joseph and Charles Eugene, here, in the buildings of an old flour mill on “the brook of Switzerland” which will provide required energy.
It is the only reason of the establishment of the factory at Cerdon, there was not copper in the basement of the area.
The wheel of the mill, which does not function at the present time, involved first of all, the polisher lathes (only machines used at the beginning of the copper factory), then the press with beam.


The development of the company is fast. This is due primarily to two large markets:
• Articles for North Africa and the East:
Plates, Arab and Turkish ewers, braziers, kettles, hot-water bottles…. leave to full boats towards Algeria, Tunisia, and Liban.....

• Parts of hotel goldsmithery in Maillechort:
two French metallurgists, Maillot and Chortier (Maillechort) have just invented a new alloy (copper + nickel + zinc) which has very good qualities of mechanical resistance and inoxydizability….but whose working poses problem.
The house Main, after long and expensive tests, contributes to solve these difficulties and creates the new ones and many models.

The parts of silver plated hotel goldsmithery decorated, during more than one century, luxe hotels and steamers of the whole world.
A window presents a collection of the years 1920.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the workmen cerdonnais “dinandiers, repousseurs, beaters of copper” (called Magnins) are famous in the whole world.

The copper factory of Cerdon which counts then nearly 80 workmen is among the most important of France!

Between two wars

Difficult period of the First World War. Manpower is dramatically reduced, but the activities with export do not weaken. A new workshop of slabbing is built for 12 turns, pulled by a third paddle wheel.

It arrives directly from the United States in innumerable cases; it is the great flanging press.

The Recession

In 1950
There are only 20 workmen.

From 1965,
It is the recession. The rural migration reduced the local potential “labour”.
Foreign competition is setting up. The park of the technical material cannot be renewed and the conditions of productivity are not met any more.
The markets “great production” becomes inaccessible and the distribution system is not adapted any more.

Whereas it does not remain any more that around ten workmen the factory is sold to foreigners.

At the end of 1979
It is the end.
The buildings are falling into disrepair… it is the advertisement of the physical and economic ruin. Nobody any more wants this factory… if not the scrap merchants.


At the beginning of 1980
Two Cerdonnais, descendants of factory workers and so passionate for its history, urge the bet to give life again at these places, by opening to public.

The machines installed in the workshops since the origin are conditioned.
“Open-doors” days are organized, then in front of the success of the formula, the visits with accompanying notes take place 7 days a week.

In the same time, the activities begin again and young people are hired and trained.
In 5 years, 14 employments will be created and the Copper Factory will receive then more than 80000 visitors per annum.

Creation of an annexe workshop in order to manufacture sulphate sprayers coppers (200 per month).
Three years later, it is finished. The plastic replace copper.

Creation of “Presti-France”, company and brand of sporting rewards.

Daniel De Bortoli is crowned “BETTER WORKMAN OF FRANCE” Dinandier of art: title decreed every 4 years.

Creation of a department “Enamelling”, synthetic enamels. This new activity enables us to meet the demand of our subsidiary company PRESTI FRANCE which must benefit from the “madness” of the pines.

Creation in our workshops of a tin department.

Jean Becker, French scenario writer, comes to the Copper Factory of Cerdon to turn a sequence of his film: “Children of the Marsh”.

Update in progress

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Paddle wheels

The first paddle wheel, (of the mill) is stopped today.

The second (photo), installed in 1860 to pull the mechanic hammers, was widened later (increase in the power) to actuate the Great American Press which runs always thus since 1924.

A third wheel had been set up to operate the slabbing turns but it waits today to be restored in order to be able to function again.

Paddle wheels
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The forge workshop
The forge workshop

It was introduced at the creation of the factory then expanded at the beginning of the 21st century.
The forge was the essential tool of the trade. Today we use it when we work with old method to:
Anneal: When copper is worked, it becomes hard. To make it slackness, it is necessary to increase its temperature until 600°C for then plung it in a cold water bath. The article finds again its malleability and then can be deformed again without risk to break.
To braze to assemble and make tight.
To forge the handles of cauldron and other small articles.
To age objects. They thus have an aspect of surface particular and out-of-date. After that, objects are waxed or varnished.

The propane furnace is used to anneal the copper objects during work by stamping or embossing. It allows an annealing more regular than the forging mill.

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Embossing workshop

Presentation of the workshop
It was created in 1915. The machines of this workshop were pulled by the third paddle wheel (which does not function any more). Today the turns to be moved are activated by an electric motor. However, the original system of transmission (central axe, pulleys and belts) has been preserved and functions.

The embossing lathes
Lathes are served by the central axe. They profit from a very simple disengaging: a belt activates the turn which runs on a pulley known as “insane” because it turns on itself. The lathe which is then inactive is activated by moving the driving belt on a fixed pulley.
Forms of various sizes are adapted on the lathes. By the embossing of copper discs on these forms, objects take life.

The technic of embossing
A copper disc is fixed on the form installed on the lathe which is then activated. Using a “spoon” (embossing tool) the copper disc is so pushed so that it marries the form.

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The American press of 1924

It has a push of 150 tons that is to say more than three times the push of its ancestor: the beam with friction.
It is moved by a paddle wheel.
Six months of installation and adjustments were necessary after its arrival by boat of the United States in 1924.

Stamping in three movements:

Installation of the copper disk:
The copper disk is posed on the matrix. The machine which is activated by a simple pedal, descends the disk holder to immobilize the disk. Thus, during stamping, the disc will not move.
Action of the punch:
The punch which is the superior part of the form, goes down to press the copper disk.
Then the ejector:
the ejector is located inside of the matrix which is the lower part of the form. It removes the pressed part, from the matrix.

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The copperware

The place of copperware is equipped of mallets and hammers of different forms.

The restoration
It is the place where coppers are renovated wholly or partially.
To reweld, to strip, to recondition a piece...
That's what private individuals and antique dealers can ask.

The manufacture and the chasing
The objects carried out with the "old method" of manufacture are shaped on these plate and assembled with the forge (brazing and annealing).
These articles can be decorated with chased motifs according to our models, a picture or a photograph (on request).

In the Copper Factory's workshop is displayed the exact replica of a coffee pot. It was realised within the framework of the competition of Best Workman in France in 1989, class "copperware". This piece is the result of a 700 hours work for which we have received the golden medal.

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The copper - Specification sheet


The copper has played a role significant in the civilisation development. It has found its origin in several place, and in particular to Cyprus, as its name: Aes Cyprium.

It is difficult to situated exactly the moment of the apparition of the first copper objects, but it is likely that the tools et the weapons appeared about 5000 before Christ, period to which this metal extracted at the native state that is to say pure of all combination.
In the modern era, copper has known an extraordinary boom with electricity development since the beginning of the 20th century.
Nowadays, electric application represents the half consumption.
It is of all the no ferrous the one whose consumption is the most significant after aluminium.

The extraction

The first manufacturer in world is Chile, France has not at disposal any substantial mining reserve.

Copper does not exist in nature at the native state, as in the antiquity.
According to the copper field and its depth, there are 2 types of exploitation:
. Open ores
. Underground ores

The open exploitation occurs when copper field are relatively close to the floor surface, so that excavation and earthwork could be carried out in economical conditions.

At the Earth surface, copper ores are generally on 2 two forms:
. Sulphurated ores (80% of the world wide production):
Chalcopyrite, chalcosine, bornite, coveline.

. Oxidized ores:
Malachite, cuprite, azurite, dioptase.

An ore is considered as rich from 1.8% of pure copper.


Copper can ce easily recovered. It does not turn sour, not rust and keep its properties and its appearance.
Recycling can theoretically operate endlessly and it is not exaggerated to consider that 75% of copper in circulation is recovered.

We can class the wastes in two categories:
. "New wastes" that is to say industrial wastes which are manufacture wastes, easily assimilable to raw metal and immediately reusable.
. "Recovered wastes" or old wastes that is to say all the products containing copper and which are destined for being recovered, after having meet its use.

Recycled copper's share in the French consumption is of the order of 30%.


Identification sheet:

. Symbol: CU
. Density: 8.89 kg/dm3
. Melting temperature: 1083° (it boils up about 2595°C)
. With gold, the only metal naturally colored
. The best conductor of electricity and heat after Silver

Attrition resistance

Copper and its alloys are not attacked by water or chemical products.
When copper have to evolve in marine environment, generally we alloy it with aluminium (cupro-aluminium) or with nickel (cupronickel).

Biologic properties

Copper used to be considered like a dangerous fish, in particular under form of worm which is one of the numerous copper oxides.
Now, we know that copper is necessary to the life: Man and animals need to absorb daily some milligrams of copper to assure the formation of haemoglobin in the blood.
There are not industrial diseases in copper industry.
Copper have known bactericide properties. It destroys micro organisms and bacteria and cleans up piping to water distribution.

These characteristics confer to copper and to some of its alloys, like the cupronickel, some properties anti-fouling, which consist in stopping the fastening of algaes and marine organisms.

Copper salts, like sulphate, have fungicide properties used to viticulture and agriculture.

Malleability and plasticity

Copper is a metal extremely ductile. No alloyed, there are not almost limits at its cold work. Copper and its cuprous alloys are hammered in very slim leave and are stretched in extremely thin wires.


It is with gold, the only metal clearly colored. The natural colour of copper is salmon-pink, but it often appears red following its superficial oxidation.
Subject to bad weather when it is used like roofing, copper can take in a first time a dark brown colour, then a very adherent light green patina which protects it of all oxidation.


Copper is amagnetism. Thanks to this property it has numerous applications, first in clock-making but also in electric and electronic construction as well as in weaponry (mine sweeper).

Information gathered by Michel Lebeux (passionate guide!)
Aids (documentation "Technical Centre of Copper", Internet, ...).
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