<Silver History - America

History of Silver

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Old World Silver (4000 BC - 100 AD)
Spanish Silver (100 AD - 1500 AD)
The Rise Of North America (1876 - 1920)
The Modern Era (1921 - Present)

New World Silver (1500 - 1875)

More significant improvements in technology and the discovery of the "New World" in 1492 led to a vast storehouse of mined silver that expanded silver production by nearly an order of magnitude, most particularly in the development of the mercury amalgamation process. The first major exploitation of "New World" silver was in the Potosi district of Bolivia. Although the actual production from Bolivia from 1500 to 1800 is difficult to quantify accurately, Spanish records indicate that about 1 billion troy ounces were produced in this time-frame. For the same period, about 1.5 billion troy ounces were mined in Mexico with the bulk being mined from 1700 to 1800.

Peru’s production has been more consistent – production averaged more than 3 million troy ounces annually from 1600 through 1800. Historically, the Cerro de Pasco district has been among the leading sources of silver in Peru.

The Spanish produced Mexican silver beginning in the early 1500s. Production increased significantly in the 1700s, averaging about 9 million troy ounces annually.

From 1500 through 1800, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico accounted for over 85 percent of world production and trade. The remaining production in the period was derived largely from Germany, Hungary, and Russia, with lesser amounts from other European countries, Chile, and Japan.

After 1850, several other countries increased production, particularly the United States with its discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada. Silver production continued to expand worldwide, growing from 40 to 80 million troy ounces annually by the 1870s.

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