COPPERS were large pieces of hammered natural copper, symbolizing wealth and status to the FIRST NATIONS people of the coast. Shaped like shields and often decorated with designs significant to the owner, they were precious possessions that gained value each time ownership was transferred. The prestige of their history resulted in their ceremonial use. In a gesture of superiority, a person sometimes broke a copper and threw away a piece of it. Coppers carried names and were inherited or transferred along with other symbols of rank and wealth in aboriginal society. See also ART, NORTHWEST COAST ABORIGINAL.