by Amber Zhai

Putting Silver on the Map

photo by seriykotik1970 |

Dating back to ancient times, man has apparently always been obsessed with shiny things.

Silver: the Early Years

Since its discovery, silver has been highly regarded and coveted for both its aesthetic appeal and practicality. The first significant mining of silver began sometime after 3000 B.C. in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), dispersing the versatile metal throughout Asia Minor. A metal at once malleable, resilient, and persistently lustrous, silver was particularly sought-after by craftsman and artisans.

The decline of the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures led to the reallocation of primary silver production to the Laurium mines of Greece around 1200 BC, where it fed the burgeoning Greek civilization. Eventually, around 100 AD, Spain would become the most critically important source of silver for the next thousand years, spreading the practice of silver mining to a broader range of countries across Europe and serving as a crucial source for both the mighty Roman Empire and the Asian spice trade.

Looking back, it’s no coincidence that the focal point silver production consistently shifted geographically in accordance with historical shifts in global power and influence.

The Silver Standard

However, no previous or subsequent event matched the watershed moment in silver history that is the discovery of the New World in 1492. The discovery of a New World meant the discovery of an abundance of rich silver mines thus unexploited. Between 1500 and 1800, Peru, Mexico, and Bolivia accounted for over 85% of world production and trade. Production levels surged at unprecedented rates.

Silver had arrived.

The United States eventually asserted itself in the silver game as a major power player with the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada in 1858, where literally kilometers of silver could be shoveled off the surface of the mines. The Comstock Lode would yield $397 million in ore in the next 20 or so years.

By the 1870s, the United States was the largest silver producer in the world with no signs of slowing for the next four decades. Silver became the value against which United States currency was based, and thus the silver dollar was born (and then later killed).

Silver has long played an operative role in world economy, industry, and technology. With each generation, explosive innovations in silver production and manipulation lead to more ever-varying uses of this precious metal.

The Value of Tradition

Here we are now, more than 5,000 years later, and demand for silver is as high as ever. Never forget that the silver jewelry and trinkets lying in your closet not only have a history, but enduring value. Cash in your unwanted pieces of history at Cash for Silver USA! Request your free Appraisal Kit now.