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The Many Uses of Silver

Updated on September 16, 2013

Silver is an Investment


The Practical Side of Silver

Many Uses for Silver

Gold may be more valuable but silver has more practical uses. We admire a shiny silver platter without realizing silver’s important in electronics, health care, and photography. Solar panels use silver. It’s a precious metal, too rare to fill the many demands. Nothing conducts heat and electricity like silver. We wouldn’t wire a house with it, but a cell phone contains just enough at vital connection points to make it work well. Doctors know that chemical qualities in silver kill bacteria and viruses. It’s in surgical equipment, wound dressings, and ointments. Silver can be used to the make a mirror. Because it’s soft, it can be rolled into sheets and cut into wire. It’s sensitive to light and used in photography, developing, and filmmaking. It can be shaved into flakes or ground into powder too. The contact points inside a light switch contain silver. So do electric connections in cars. Big power switches in factories require silver components. Of course it’s in coins, jewelry, and tableware, but it’s also in TV's and appliances. The movie industry knows about silver because Hollywood became famous on the “silver screen” made of fabric that had some real silver dust in it to reflect the light from of the projector. All that glitters doesn’t necessarily have to be gold.

Although an investor has the choice now whether to own actual bars of silver or other precious metals such as gold, or alternatively to invest by way of a paper transaction that records value according to the fluctuations of the market, most investors modernly are opting out of the traditional method of old days when metal could be stored in safety deposit vaults. This old way of investing led to problems and overhead costs. Bars of silver would have to be recorded by serial numbers assigned to individual owners. There were transportation fees and storage fees. But with the newer method of investing according to current value, the investor now can buy and sell freely through a financial adviser, without actually seeing and touching the real metal. While this lends itself to the possibility of abuse, such as when investments are made beyond the actual supply of silver in the world, the controls over the securities market attempt to secure a realistic investment guaranty that the price of silver will be reflected accurately and fairly in the many transactions that now take place electronically rather than actually involving silver bars. The idea of investing in something with more practical use than gold is something very appealing to many investors who might place ten percent or more of their portfolio into the precious metals market with confidence, despite the fact that they never can touch the real metal.

The Silversmith of Times Gone By

In olden days, the silversmith was a person who ran a shop in a village. He generally specialized in the decorative uses of silver rather than the more modern practical uses that have been found. His were the days prior to the electronic revolution that has given modern man cell phones and devices that changed the world.

He was more than just a business person. He was a craftsman. He made dishes, cups, and candlesticks. Churches were among his favorite clients because of the fine goblets and decorations desired inside the halls of worship.

In ancient times, people did not revere the talent of a silversmith. Artistic talent was not admired as much as it is in progressive nations in the modern era where objects of art can sell for millions of dollars or be cherished as remarkable pieces to be enjoyed by museum patrons. But as time progressed into the Middle Ages, silversmiths began to form guilds and to be able to command some degree of respect for their trade, as well as a little economic security for themselves and their families. The guilds were somewhat like labor unions are today.

Silversmiths had their favorite tools. There were many, but among them were special tiny saws, hammers to shape the soft precious metal, riveting to hold sheets of silver together, and engraving tools to make designs on the artistic objects produced by many hours of labor.

Sterling silver that was almost pure was as valued in historical times as it is today. Necklaces, chains, and gems had to be surrounded by the best silver to encase the fine stones and decorative pieces that made for shiny, beautiful objects in great demand.

The famous Paul Revere of American history was a silversmith by trade. Although he's most known for his patriotism at the time of the Revolutionary War, Paul Revere also was famous in and around the Massachusetts towns by Boston for his fine silverware and his factory that produced highly desired objects of art and jewelry. Today there is a Society of American Silversmiths which honors the memory of Paul Revere.

Silversmith, Silversmith, Wherefore art Thou?



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