HISTORY OF SILVER - SELL STERLING SILVER FLATWARE IN NY
Silver is a chemical element and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal. It occurs as a pure free metal (native silver) and alloyed with gold (electrum), as well as in various minerals, such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a by-product of copper, gold, lead, and zinc mining.
Silver has been known since ancient times and has long been valued as a precious metal, used to make ornaments, jewellery, high-value tableware and utensils (hence the term “silverware”) and currency coins. Today, silver metal is used in electrical contacts and conductors, in mirrors and in catalysis of chemical reactions. Its compounds are used in photographic film and dilute solutions of silver nitrate and other silver compounds are used as disinfectants. Although the antimicrobial uses of silver have largely been supplanted by the use of antibiotics, further research into its clinical potential is in progress.
A major watershed of silver production was the discovery of the New World in 1492, after which time major silver mines in Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru were opened leading to a rapid rise in the annual world production of silver. This rise, coupled with improved techniques for extracting silver from ore, broadened both the quality and quantity of ore that could be exploited. Later improvements, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, vastly enhanced the base of silver production and accelerated the exploitation of silver as a byproduct of base-metal mining.
Only about 25 percent of cumulative world silver production occurred before the 1770s. Records remain somewhat incomplete for the periods before 1900, however they play a critical part in determining cumulative historical production. To learn more, select from the following periods of time. Material adapted in part from the Silver Institute’s Stocks of Silver Around the World publication.
(“Quarter Eagle”), $3, $5 (“Half Eagle”), $10 (“Eagle”), and $20 (“Double Eagle”) were used from 1795 until 1933.