Metals that oxidize fairly quickly are counted among the base metals. The Rijksmuseum owns around 2500 objects in this category: copper and bronze (app. 1100 objects), pewter (app. 400 objects), lead (app. 100 objects) and iron (app. 900 objects). The collection gives an impression of the history of the application of these metals from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century in the Netherlands, while several European highlights serve to place the Dutch production in perspective.
The aquamanilia – types of ewers with animal and human shapes – are a significant core of the collection of copper and bronze objects. The highlight is a medieval jug in the shape of a knight riding a horse. Other groups of interest are the chandeliers, mortars, bells and nests of weights. The great diversity of objects made of base metal is clearly demonstrated by the collection of ironwork. In addition to keys, locks, and stove and hearth plates, there are steeple crosses and entrance gates. That objects made of base metal could also be fit for a king is demonstrated by a set of gold and silver inlaid steel knives and forks from 1532 bearing the coat of arms of Emperor Charles V.