If you take a tour around your home, you are likely to find items made with silver.
Whether you have a drawer full of grandma’s sterling silver dinnerware, or a jar of grandpa’s old coins, you are probably familiar, or think you are familiar, with the 47th element on the Periodic Table.
Below you will find a history of silver and some facts about the material that you probably did not know.
History of Silver
Dating back to Ancient times, silver has been recognized in many cultures for its unique properties, specifically its durability and malleability, which made it ideal for use as a medium of exchange and creating religious artifacts, jewelry, and food utensils. These ancient traditions have been modernized and reinvented through the centuries, but fundamentally stayed the same.
Following the traditions of their ancestors, the United States based currency on the silver dollar in 1792. Eventually, the United States discontinued the use of silver currency, in 1965. However, while silver was no longer used for currency, it was still heavily relied on as an industrial raw material and an excellent investment opportunity.
Although most people come in contact with silver every day, it is a relatively scare natural resource. In fact, there are only about 300 million ounces of silver above ground today. In comparison, there were about 12 billion ounces of silver above ground in the 1900s. However, it still remains the least expensive of the precious metals. Silver is most commonly found in decorative or ornamental items, utensils, currency and photography items.
Fun Facts About Silver
- 1 out of every 7 pair of prescription eyeglasses sold in the United States has silver in it.
- The praise “born with a silver spoon in their mouth” is often thought to be a statement about a child’s family wealth. However, it actually refers to a time when people thought children fed with silver utensils were healthier than children who were not.
- The term for silver and money is exactly the same in 14 different languages.
- Mexico, Chile and Peru are the largest producers of silver.
- Ag is the symbol for silver on the Periodic Element table.
- Silver has the highest electrical conductivity of any element.
- According to geologists, there are 17 ounces of silver for every 1 ounce of gold on the planet.
- Silver’s unique properties include its malleability, strength, reflectivity and conductivity.
- 95% of silver consumed every year is used to make silverware, jewelry and in photography.
- Electrical actions in cars would not be possible without silver coated contacts.
- It is believed that the first silver coins were used as early as 700 B.C.
- Since silver is a soft metal, an ounce of silver can be used to create 8,000 feet of silver wire.
- If silver is exposed to eggs, it will tarnish very easily.
- Silver has medicinal properties. A small concentration of silver is thought to be as powerful as antibiotics in killing bacteria.
- According to myths and legends, the only way to kill a werewolf was with a dagger or sword that had been crafted with silver.
Now you have a brief history, fun facts, and, hopefully, a better understanding about the silver found in and around your home.
By Mike Ferreira on October 1st, 2012