The History of Silver
Silver: is a lustrous white, ductile, malleable metal, found both uncombined and inside ores such as argentite, having the best thermal & electrical conductivity of all metals. It is highly prized for jewelry, table ware as well as other ornamental use & is often used in coinage, photography, dentistry, soldering alloys, electrical contacts, as well as printed circuit boards.
The History of Silver – The Beginning of Silver 4000 BC – 1500 AD
Turkey was the first country or area to produce Silver in good quantity. Turkey or Anatolia as it was known supplied craftspeople around Asia as well as Crete and Greece in the Minoan / Mycenaean cultures.
The first real effort to mine came in 3000 BC and the first advancement came in 2500 BC with the “cupellation” process to extract it from Silver, Lead ore.
Armenia then became a prominent area for Silver supply.
With the decline of Minoan and Mycenaean cultures Silver production changed and centered around Laurium (who produced around 1 million Troy ounces per year – 600 – 300 BC) for the Greek civilization. This allowed the building of Athens into a powerful state with an advanced navy.
Silver trade along Asia and north Africa also began to expand after the 8th century BC.
The Carthaginians then exploited Spanish Silver and then After the Punic wars Romans replaced them. However for 1000 years to follow Spanish Silver remained critically important only halted by Moorish invasion of Spain. Greece Asia Minor and Italy then stepped up to the plate to replace this loss.
Discoveries of Silver were then made in Germany and Austria Hungary.
True expansion of production only came between 1000 – 1500 AD with locations and technology improvements.
The History of Silver – The new World Silver 1500 – 1875
The finding of the “new World” in 1492 led to the boom in silver production. The mercury amalgamation process boosted this advance.
The first region to be exploited for silver in the new world was Bolivia from 1500 – 1800 (about 1 billion troy ounces). Gradually Mexico also came to the fore in the latter years. Peru was also a consistent producer during this time.
From 1500 – 1800 together Bolivia, mexico and Peru made up 85% of the worlds silver production with Germany, Hungary and Russia making up most of the rest.
After 1850 a few other countries then came to the fore with the United States leading the way with a large Lode in Nevada.
The History of Silver – The Rise of North American Silver. 1876 – 1920
The last quarter of 19th century saw Silver production quadruple led by innovative technology and exploration of new regions.
Nevada, Colorado and Utah became big producers Followed soon after by Australia, Central America and Europe.
1900 – 1920 saw another 50% growth in Silver production led by discoveries in Canada, United States, Africa, Mexico, Chile, Japan and others.
Technology allowing steam assisted drilling, mining, mine draining and better mine logistics was a huge step up for the world.
The Fuming Process also allowed better extraction from low grade ores.
The history of Silver – Modern Silver 1921 – present day.
Unfortunately a lot of the worlds sources were depleted by 1900.
But luckily further technological advancements replaced this including “Bulk Mining” above and below ground, refine extraction methods able to separate base metals from ore and better ore separation by froth flotation.
Another good advancement was electro-refining methods for silver and refinery slime separation.
With these techniques production and supply boom.
Today Silver is still sought after by treasure hunters looking for Spanish pieces of eight mined from the new world and lost to Shipwrecks on the ocean bottoms. Today the hunt even continues in parks and on the beaches where metal detector enthusiast add to their old coin collections by pulling up coins that have been hidden for many years.
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