Silver, serving plates, climate change, Joe Biden and the FED


The blog post series Silver would like to take you on an entertaining journey into the world of precious metals and “the little man’s gold”. The first article is the aperitif, the appetiser that should whet your appetite for more. You may learn some interesting facts about silver that you did not know yet.

What is silver?

The answers are complex and depend on whether you are an astrophysicist, a chemist, an archaeologist, a central banker, a maid at the Tsar’s court, a nostalgic photographer, a manufacturer of solar cells, a linguist, a drug lord, a mine operator, a geologist in search of silver, an etymologist, a Netflix series fan or an investor. Therefore, the answers vary (please assign them yourself):

  1. Silver is an element of the copper group in the periodic table of the elements with 37 electrons. You can find out more about the chemical properties of silver here.
  2. Silver has been used to make jewellery for over 6000 years.
  3. Silver is produced in special fusion processes during supernova explosions of stars of certain masses. So, the medieval alchemists were right: Silver can be made from hydrogen, if only supernova/nuclear fusion technology could be mastered.
  4. “Silver is a total pain in the ass because all the time I have to make hundreds of lacklustre, blackened knives, forks, spoons, serving platters, chandeliers and crosses shine again to please the Romanovs.”
  5. Before stainless steel was developed in the 19th century, high-quality serving plates, cutlery and candlesticks as well as church cutlery were made of silver. High-quality steel alloys thus led to a sharp collapse in the demand for silver and the price of silver in the meantime.
  6. In the days of analogue photography, silver was used to produce silver nitrate to make light-sensitive halide crystals. For a long time, photography represented the largest field of application for silver. In 1999, about 25% of the silver mined was used for photography. Digital photography no longer requires practically any silver. With the decline of analogue photography, the demand for silver temporarily collapsed.
  7. Silver is the element with the greatest electrical conductivity and the greatest thermal conductivity of all metals.
  8. Silver is very sensitive to light and is used in photovoltaics as a conductor to convert sunlight into energy. The demand gap caused by the decline of the pre-digital industry was soon (over-)compensated by the increasing demand of the photovoltaic industry.
  9. Of all the elements, silver has the strongest antibacterial effect without having a negative effect on human cells. This is why silver biocides are used for disinfection in hospitals.
  10. Silver is a coin metal and therefore for all Keynesians and for all politicians who love debt-financed election gifts, public enemy number 1 right after gold. MMT fans hate silver and gold standards, i.e., silver- or gold-backed currencies.
  11. 0.0000079% of the earth’s crust is silver. There is about 20 times as much silver as gold on earth. Therefore, some assume that the fair price of silver must be 1/20 of the price of gold. More on this in a later article.
  12. Silver is used to make mirrors because it reflects over 99% of light.
  13. Language reveals so many things. Example 1: Please watch this film clip! Example 2: If you type the French word l’argent into Leo, the first translation is “money”, the second “silver”.
  14. By the way, Argentina owes its name to silver. Allegedly due to the Corona crisis, Argentina is unable to service its debts for the ninth time. This means that a sovereign default occurs on average every 22.8 years (founding year: 1816). With an average life expectancy of 76 years, a person living in Argentina experiences an average of 3.33 state bankruptcies.

We hope you enjoyed the aperitif. More on silver from an investor’s perspective in the next post.



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Thomas Härter
Chief Investment Officer Aquila