The Physics
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Price of Silver

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Silver Historical Prices and Current Silver Prices. Gold Masters Coins & Precious Metals, June 2004. [see accompanying text file] [see graph]
Technical Analysis of Silver. Contrarian Thinker, 7 May 2004. "Silver is cheap, at under $5 an ounce" < $0.18/gram
"Silver Barbs." New York Times.March 16, 1960: 52. "The government made a profit of almost 35 cents/ounce on silver … at the value of $1.29" $0.455/gram

Every cloud has a silver lining, but just how much does all that silver cost? Studies show that in the past few hundred years, the price of silver has been declining significantly.

Silver is a whitish, metallic, solid chemical element and has been used since ancient times (dating as far back as to 4000 BC) as forms of money, jewelry, silverware, etc. Amounts of silver are measures in troy ounces. One troy ounce is about 10% larger than the avoirdupois ounce. (Avoirdupois weight is a system of weights and measures based on a pound containing 16 ounces or 7,000 grains and equal to 453.59 grams.) The world's production of silver is about 250,000,000 troy ounces per year. The United States produces about 35,000,000 troy ounces of this silver per year.

From the 1720s into the 1860s, silver was a rare product throughout the United States, for it was not produced in great amounts during this time. The price of silver, therefore, was considered expensive, and the demand for the mineral was high. In 1792, the price of silver was $0.456 per gram, and rose to the highest price of $0.104 per gram in 1864. The price of silver decreased in the years to follow. However, prices rose again in the early 1900s into 1979, when silver was at its highest price of $0.769 per gram. Since then, the prices have been decreasing, in general, once again. This is a result from a less demand in silver, as production for silver grew over the years. In 1999, the price of silver was $5.21.

Today, silver is cheap and costs around $0.18 per gram ($5 per ounce). It is quite surprising to see that in present-day America, a society in which everything seems to be inflating, the price of a mineral such as silver is actually decreasing in value and price. However, if the production in silver should suddenly decrease, the price of silver could jump to over $17.637 per gram ($500 per ounce) -- a rise of 10,000%.

Abigail Tang -- 2004