Brief History of Silver
Silver has been used for centuries, since ancient times. Silver has been used to make ornaments and utensils in many ancient civilizations. It was also used for trading and as a currency, besides being valued highly as a precious metal.
Silver is mentioned in the book of genesis and in the Gospels. The metal was found in Asia Minor as early as 4th century BC and Laureion had several mines during 483 BC.
The Lydians used a gold-silver alloy in around 700 BC to make coins used as money. Later, silver was used in its pure form.
The Chinese Empire used to decorate their tombs with silver and used the metal during most of its reign as a means of exchange. In fact, silver was a leading cause of the Opium War between Britain and China. Chinese merchants asked for silver in exchange of supplies like silk and tea, and the British empire decided to balance the payments by selling Opium in China.
Silver technology was developed by the pre-Inca civilization in around 60-120 AD. In ancient Rome, silver production took place at an astonishing rate, and silver bullions were used to back up currency in second century AD. Silver salts were used in the Middle Ages, to stain glass.
In the 19th century, silver was used to back currency in the Americas, but most states adopted the gold standard by 1900 since they feared there might be a sharp decrease in the value of silver.
A copper shortage during the Second World War caused silver to be used in many industrial processes, including aircraft manufacturing, electrical connectors, searchlights and switches. It helped save copper, tin and nickel for more important uses.
Before the end of the 20th century, most countries stopped minting silver coins. When the U.S. stopped the gold standard, the value of gold and silver both shot up and the interrelationship between the two precious metals became clear to everyone.
In the 1970s, due to interferences and manipulation in the silver market, its price peaked to around $50 per ounce by 1980.
Where is Silver Produced?
Silver production appears to have flattened recently, specially by the world’s biggest companies. New production sources are being sought as old sources of silver run out.
However, silver production (from mines) still witnessed modest growth of 3.4% in 2013, to reach 819 millions of ounces. According to the Silver Institute, Mexico led the world in silver production with a total of 169.7 million ounces of silver produced from its mines. It was followed by Peru at 118.1 million ounces and by China at 118.0 million ounces. Australia and Russia were also in the top 5.
The U. S. is not one of the leading silver producing countries, but it still generates a significant amount of silver. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. produced around 1050 tons of silver worth over $1 billion in 2012. This silver came from 35 mines around the country. Alaska is the country’s top silver-producing State, ahead of Nevada.