Precious metals such as silver and gold are as old as time itself; the metals only gained value once man ‘discovered’ gold veins and silver streaks. After that is was no turning back, countries set gold and silver prices, the metals became central to the economy and countless industries. That is because those precious metals were the very first used for coinage in the mints of yesteryear.

Money is an abstraction that was created by humans, meaning our ancestors put a price tag on gifts from the earth. The practice of exchanging something for goods and services has been around for over 10,000, according to NOVA the process started with barter, evolved from cattle (circa 9000 to 6000 BC) to shells (1200 BC) and eventually metal money including silver coins and gold coins in 1000 BC to 500 BC.

First China introduced the metal coins, they were designed to mimic the shells used previously.  Several hundred years later (around 700 BC), coins minted of precious metals started to appear in Lydia, an area that is now part of present day Turkey. It is believed that the very first mint was established in Rome in 269 BC; the space (the temple of Juno Moneta) used to manufacture silver coins and was assigned the name mint.

Those early mints were primitive compared to today’s standards; casting coins of precious metals was the prefered method of the time. That gave way to precious metal currency being manually hammered out on sheets and cut, this method proved to be much more effective for producing gold bullion, silver bullion, gold coins, silver coins and the like in larger quantities.

From that point on ,minting technologies progressed and the next changes can be traced back to 16th and 17th century Europe. Weight (as opposed to human force) was the latest trick to making silver and gold coins as in 1553, the French engineer Aubin Olivier introduced screw presses to help pick up the pace of making silver and gold coins. Although the practice went out of style, it became the norm in 1640 thanks to Jean Varin reintroducing the process and was an official method by 1662.

That minting process of silver and gold coins were the status quo until the Industrial Revolution. During that time, steam-power became all the rage and was introduced by coin maker Matthew Boulton and mechanical engineer James Watt; the process was eventually adopted by London’s Royal Mint in 1810. The steam technology was merged with a screw press of Watt’s design and helped put the government in control of silver and gold coins and the economy at large.

Now electricity is the driving force between silver and gold coins manufacturing and nearly every established government has a part making their own currency. Mints like the United State’s Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint also make an assortment of gold bullion and silver bullion for investment purposes. Some examples of this work include a variety of Canadian silver coins, Maple Leaf gold coins, Gold coin eagle and American Eagle coins.
04/14/2015 12:06am

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    Charles loves analyzing the current market trends and shares his insights with the investing community for gaining the right perspective while investing. He is also a visiting lecturer in Financial Management at a renowned university. He can be found on Twitter as @CharlesSMcLain.

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