A Brief History of Silver

05/16/2023     General


       Silver has been a valuable resource throughout history and continues to be admired for its beauty, durability, and versatility. Silver is popularly used within a wide range of objects, ranging from jewelry among other luxury items, to utilitarian pieces like flatware and coinage. This post focuses on silver’s place within our history along with looking at the enduring appeal that has perpetuated silver’s relevance. 


Lot 37, German 800 silver menorah

      The history of silver mining can be traced back about 5,000 years ago. The first recorded silver mining occurred in modern-day Turkey, where this precious metal played a significant role in the growth of early civilizations surrounding Ancient Greece. Later on, silver mining moved to Spain, where it became a crucial backbone of the Roman Empire and was vital to the success of the silk road. 

      Contact between Europe and the Americas was a crucial turning point in silver’s history, considering that from 1500-1800 central America was responsible for over 85 percent of global silver production and trade. Gradually, silver mining spread around the world, inadvertently prompting the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada in 1859, one of the largest spines of silver in the United States. The discovery of the Comstock Lode in Nevada is said to have been as popular as the gold rush in California back in 1849 and propelled silvers legacy into the 20th century. 

Lot 403, Set of 4 sterling silver goblets

      In the 1870s, global silver production doubled due to accelerated technological innovation and the exploration of new regions. The roaring twenties resulted in yet another 50% increase in global production, with new discoveries in Canada, the United States, Africa, Mexico, Chile, Japan, and many other regions. Advances in refining techniques have significantly increased the volume of production, as many of the high-grade ores around the world had been used up by the end of the 19th century. 

      Today, over 5,000 years after the ancient cultures first began mining silver in small amounts, silver's popularity has grown over the years for its rich history, beauty, and versatility. Whether you're a collector, a decorator, or simply someone who appreciates fine craftsmanship, silver articles offer a timeless appeal that is sure to endure for generations to come. Hayloft is excited to offer over 30 silver lots in this upcoming auction, which opens on Wednesday, May 17th, and Closes on Sunday night May 21st.

Lot 252, Dutch 800 silver tea set with tray