Brass is a valuable manufacturing material because of its hardness and workability. Alpha brasses, with less than 40% zinc, are malleable and can be worked cold. Beta brasses, with a higher zinc content, can only be worked hot, but are harder and stronger. White brass, with more than 45% zinc, is too brittle for general use. Some types of brass have other metals added to modify their properties.
Also refers to a metal commemorative plate laid down in British and European churches from the 13th Century onwards. These can be reproduced by brass rubbing - placing a piece of paper over the figure or inscription and rubbing with a special crayon. For more information see Monumental Brasses as Art and History ed. Jerome Bertram published by Alan Sutton. See also http://www.mbs-brasses.co.uk\n