Inside the Silver Trade – Understanding the Role of Dealers in Transactions

Silver is one of the most familiar and widely used precious metals in the world. It is used in coins, jewelry and other ornaments, but it also plays a key role in the global economy. It is essential for the production of many different goods, and it has played a vital part in global commerce throughout history. Silver has been the driving force behind many significant changes in the world, and the global silver trade stimulated the growth of industrialization.

It’s a complicated story that spans 250 years and involves men and markets, nationalism and diplomacy, advancement or stagnation of states. But at its core, the book is about one precious metal and how it changed the world around it.

A team of French, Australian and Israeli scientists has discovered evidence revealing that a robust, pre-coinage, interregional trading network existed in the ancient eastern Mediterranean. Its participants included civilizations in the southern Levant (modern Israel, Jordan and Palestine), the nations or city-states on mainland Greece, Crete and the Cyclades Islands.

That trade was carried out using a form of currency called hack silver, pieces of silver bullion of varying size cut into the shapes of ingots or rings. This hack silver was exchanged for other products, often by merchants who weighed the pieces on standardized scales. The monetary system was not perfect; there were no silver mines in the Levant and silver needed to be imported from other parts of the world.

The traditional story is that most hack silver flooded into Europe, where it was turned into coinage and fueled the economic expansion of Western civilization. But the researchers found that a good proportion of it went elsewhere, including Asia, where it helped drive industrialization in that region as well.

Mercantilism, an economic philosophy of the period that emphasizes building wealth through trade, helped drive this expansion. Silver, Trade and War makes the case that Europeans began it by colonizing the Americas and extracting silver. It was then passed to Asia, where it stimulated production and led to the development of advanced manufacturing technologies.

This book makes the case that silver was important to all the countries involved in this intercontinental relay race, and it is an important book for anyone interested in understanding the forces that shaped the global economy of the modern era. But teachers and students looking for the more familiar, Europe-centric version of this story will have to look elsewhere. It is not the only world in this book, but it is a world of fascinating change. If you are looking to buy and sell silver in Alexandria make sure you partner with a reputable silver dealer in the area.