Precious Metals: Intro

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Precious metals are as old as money. In fact, for a long time they were money, and today’s living evidence of that is in our language. In French, the word “argent” means silver, but today it is also generally used to describe money. In the German or Dutch language, money is called “Geld”, differing from its original meaning by only one letter.

The Chinese character for gold is also part of the symbol for silver and, perhaps more important, of the symbol for money. And in most of the Spanish-speaking world, transactions are settled in “pesos” or “pesetas”. Both these words describe a weight, as does “pound”. Obviously, the original pesos, pesetas and pounds were different weights of precious metals.

limited. That is why beads, colorful shells, or the teeth of certain animals provided an efficient means of exchange in the regions in Essentially, anything can serve as a sound money if its supply is which they were used. However, when men began trading more extensively, they discovered that what was rare in one part of the world was not necessarily in great demand in another. Whole economic systems collapsed as a result, leaving only those materials which were genuinely rare as true currency.

Gold and silver were valued right from the start. They were not perishable or destructible, as were oil, grains or other barter items. They were very dense, so that great wealth could be stored in a relatively small and easily transportable hoard. Above all, they could be crafted into jewelry which, to the rulers of the ancient world, was very important. Like many a millionaire today, they liked to display their wealth.

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