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"This film is silent... Shows the manufacture of silver tableware. Reel 1, dies and molds are made and used to make designs on silverware. Reel 2 shows operations in the manufacture of hollow ware. Reel 3 shows silver mine operations and processes by which silver is extracted. Shows ingots being rolled. Shows silver implements at a wedding and at a party."
Public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
Silver is the metallic element with the atomic number 47. Its symbol is Ag, from the Latin argentum, derived from the Greek ὰργὀς (literally "shiny" or "white"), and ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European language root reconstructed as *h2erǵ-, "grey" or "shining". A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal. The metal is found in the Earth's crust in the pure, free elemental form ("native silver"), as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining. Silver is more abundant than gold, but it is much less abundant as a native metal. Its purity is typically measured on a per mille basis; a 94%-pure alloy is described as "0.940 fine".
As one of the seven metals of antiquity, silver has had an enduring role in most human cultures. Silver has long been valued as a precious metal. Silver metal is used in many premodern monetary systems in bullion coins, sometimes alongside gold. Silver is used in numerous applications other than currency, such as solar panels, water filtration, jewelry, ornaments, high-value tableware and utensils (hence the term silverware), and as an investment medium (coins and bullion). Silver is used industrially in electrical contacts and conductors, in specialized mirrors, window coatings, and in catalysis of chemical reactions. Silver compounds are used in photographic film and X-rays. Dilute silver nitrate solutions and other silver compounds are used as disinfectants and microbiocides (oligodynamic effect), added to bandages and wound-dressings, catheters, and other medical instruments...
Jewelry and silverware
Jewelry and silverware are traditionally made from sterling silver (standard silver), an alloy of 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper. In the US, only alloys at least 0.900-fine silver can be sold as "silver" (frequently stamped 900). Sterling silver (stamped 925) is harder than pure silver and has a lower melting point (893 °C) than either pure silver or pure copper. Britannia silver is an alternative, hallmark-quality standard containing 95.8% silver, often used for silver tableware and wrought plate. The patented alloy Argentium sterling silver is formed by the addition of germanium, having improved properties including resistance to firescale.
Sterling silver jewelry is often plated with a thin coat of .999-fine silver to create a shiny finish. This process is called "flashing". Silver jewelry can also be plated with rhodium (for a bright shine) or gold (silver gilt).
Silver is a constituent of almost all colored carat gold alloys and carat gold solders, giving the alloys paler color and greater hardness. White 9-carat gold contains 62.5% silver and 37.5% gold, while 22-carat gold contains a minimum of 91.7% gold and 8.3% silver or copper or other metals.
Historically, the training and guild organization of goldsmiths included silversmiths, and the two crafts remain largely overlapping. Unlike blacksmiths, silversmiths do not shape the metal while it is softened with heat, but work it at room temperature with gentle and carefully placed hammer blows. The essence of silversmithing is to transform a piece of flat metal into a useful object with hammers, stakes, and other simple tools.
While silversmiths specialize and work principally in silver, they also work with other metals, such as gold, copper, steel, and brass, to make jewelry, silverware, armor, vases, and other artistic items. Because silver is so malleable, silversmiths have many choices for working the metal. Historically, silversmiths are usually called goldsmiths and are usually members of the same guild. The western Canadian silversmith tradition does not include guilds but mentoring through colleagues is a common method of professional advancement.
Traditionally, silversmiths mostly made "silverware" (cutlery, tableware, bowls, candlesticks and such). Handmade solid silver tableware is now much less common...