A history of the precious metals
A fairly exhaustive treatise on the subject by an American writer, who has taken great pains to obtain reliable information.
Excerpt from the introduction:
Del Mar's " History of the Precious Metals " was begun in 1858, laid aside in 1862, when the author published his first work on Money, resumed in 1869, completed in 1879, and published during the following year by Messrs. Geo. Bell & Sons, of London.
The merits of the work were at once recognized by the literary press, portions of it were translated and republished with approbation by the Journal des Economistes and other Continental journals, and the edition was soon exhausted. But until within late years the author's occupation as a Mining Engineer took him so far afield that he found it impracticable to revise the work for a second publication: a task which he always expressed himself anxious to accomplish.
The plan of the present work embraces a history of the precious metals in each important country by itself, from the earliest times to the present. After this, the subject is treated from a general standpoint; the produce of the world at various epochs is brought together, the consumption in the arts and for coinage is shown, together with the resulting stocks on hand in the form of coins and bullion. This is the framing of the work: the body of it is filled with the most interesting and in some instances very important historical material.
The history of the Veneti of Pontus, an ancient race of miners who settled in Greece and North Germany, and afterwards in Italy at a very remote period, is here brought to light for the first time; the Tschudic remains found in the Siberian tundras; and the Roman mining laws of the Peak of Derby, which are still enforced, are among the strikingly original subjects treated in this volume.
The South American Revolution of 1732, and the system of contract labour which prevails today in the Mysore and British South African gold mines, to the disadvantage of Australia, California, Colorado, and the free mining States generally, are also new lights shed upon a little understood, but highly important, subject. While, as the author shows, the search for gold has carried the torch of civilization and the claims of Christianity to the remotest regions, it has also extended the area and prolonged the establishment of slavery.
Of the twenty thousand million dollars worth of the precious metals produced since the Discovery of America, fully one-half has been wrung from the blood and tears of conquered and enslaved races. The value at which this crime-stained metal has entered the exchanges of the world keeps down the value of the portion produced by free labour; so that as yet, the latter is sold to the mints at less than its average cost. In other words, thus far, and perhaps for generations yet to come, the precious metals gained by free-labour, cost in the long run more to produce than they are worth; a conclusion long familiar to practical mining men, but sounds strange to those who ignore the hazards, expense, and losses of gold and silver mining.
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