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Silver has a long and prestigious history with humanity as a hard form of money, much like gold. Being recognized and used as money for over 5000 years, you may be shocked to learn that silver has played other key roles in society over time.

The tale of humans and silver starts off around 5000 BC when early prospectors discovered it during their excavation of copper. Rich copper veins are known to also have a silver counterpart and this is the first recorded discovery of the shiny metal. As city states begin emerging in 3000 BC we find the first pure silver mines erected to dig out the metal. This was when silver begin its use as a form of currency via use as a medium of exchange to settle commerce.

Ancient Roman silver denarius coin of Emperor Augustus.

With a common form of currency to be used for trade, economic action increased across the map. Other cultures and nations were exposed to silver as money, increasing the awareness, acceptability and thus demand for the metal. By 1200 BC the Athenians had tapped into the Laurium mine and began extracting silver for use. This proved to be a boon for the city state of Athens as it allowed them to finance an impressive army. Conflict came to a head when Athens was able to conclusively defeat the Persians and take control of the Aegean. It is speculated that up to 30 tonnes of silver a year was extracted at the Laurium mines.

By 200 BC, Spain had become the biggest supplier of silver for the Roman empire. At peak production, around 200 tonnes of silver a year was produced and put to use to finance the ever expanding empire of the Romans. Silver once again played a pivotal role in global affairs when in 1545 a rich vein of silver was discovered by Spanish conquistadors in Bolivia. Even larger deposits were soon found in Mexico and Peru as well.

By the late 1800’s, silver was beginning to lose ground to gold as the de facto form of money. Nations began to adopt the gold standard and the demonetization of silver began throughout the world. By the early 1900’s, silver had found itself taking a back seat to gold in most arenas within the investment realm and this is when many of its other uses started to gain recognition.

Silver Kilobar

Today, silver is still used for investment across the globe and is coveted by many. It also has industrial properties due to its incredible conductivity, replacing copper wiring in some homes due to its superior abilities. Silver is also used in medicine as it can sterilize water across long trips over the Atlantic Sailors would drop a silver coin in stored water to ensure nothing untoward would happen to it during the long voyage. Wealthy folks at the turn of the century would dine with silverware and this was due to its biocidal properties, which acts as a disinfectant against many foreign organisms. Thus the term "You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth".

As we can see, silver's long history rivals golds with the length, importance and notoriety across the nations of the planet. There are few more satisfying feelings than owning one of the purest and longest standing forms of money the planet has ever seen.