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Produce of the South American mines from the discovery of the continent to the end of the year 1867.
Total value of each metal
Total value of
both metals since 1803.
Total amount of gold from 1492 to 1868, $1,778,854,430; silver, $2.897,219,459 ; both metals, $4,676,073,889.
From the discovery of the conti
nent to the end of the year From 1804 to the end of 1847. From 1848 to the end of 1867. 1803.
$414,000,000 $2, 214,578,000
r $26, 400,000 $206, 800,000
3,300,000 18, 700,000
792, 000 351, 274, 430 401, 081, 674
8, 920, 000
$38, 400,000 $300, 300,000 $339, 200, 000
The present annual product of the several divisions of South America may be computed as follows
Having passed over the several divisions of the American continent, and endeavored to describe the metalliferous character of each, and its contributione to the world's wealth in the precious metals, the result may be stated as follows:
Product of the whole American continent from its discovery, in 1492, to the commencement of 1868, a period of 376 years.
Produce of the mines from 1492
From 1804 to 1848.
From 1848 to 1868.
Total value of each metal from
1492 to 1868.
Total value of
$100,000,000 $1,040,000,000 $100,000,000
1,000,000 37,000,000 1,000,000
3,000,000 13, 800,000 7,400,000
8, 800, COU 447, 074, 430
4, 163, 530,000
Amount of both metals prior to 1804
$5, 512, 030, 000
1,916, 334, 000
Product from 1804 to 1848, (both metals).
$1,525, 056, 104
630, 907, 244 2, 070, 640,000
459, 520,000 1, 712, 154, 430 1, 883, 541, 674
171, 387, 244 3, 595, 696, 104 1, 712, 154, 430 1, 348,500,000
363, 654, 430 1, 265, 080, 000
From the above table it appears that during the twenty years just closed there has been produced in North and South America an amount of gold only $83,420,000 less than the whole quantity computed by Humboldt as the product of the American mines for a period of 311 years prior to 1804.
Of the $1,265,080,000 produced in the twenty years $1,015,000,000 were obtained in the United States, and $250,000,000 in other portions of the American continent; the United States producing, as it appears, four-fifths of the gold furnished by the whole continent during the last twenty years.
The quantity of silver supplied during the same time was $805,560,000, of which the United States have, within the last seven years, contributed $100,000,000.
It will be observed that the quantity of gold supplied during the last sixtyfour years is greater by $363,654,430 than the total amount of gold contributed during the 311 years previous to 1804, and that the amount of gold and silver furnished since 1804 is equal to nearly two-thirds of the total of both metals produced previous to that date.
The amount of gold and silver contributed during the last twenty years is $545,583,896 greater than the quantity obtained during the forty-four previous years.
The total product of the whole American continent from its first discovery in 1492 to the commencement of 1868, of both metals, amounts to $9,107,725,889, or, in round numbers, $9,108,000,000. Average annual product for the whole continent during the fortyfour years...
$34, 660, 366 During the last twenty years.
103, 532, 000 During the last sixty-four years.
56, 182, 752 The product of the whole continent for the year 1868 may, from present indications, be estimated as follows:
Silver. Both metals. United States
$60,000,000 $20,000,000 $80,000,000 Mexico....
3,000,000 26, 000, 000 29, 000, 000 South America..
7,900,000 14, 378,000 22, 278, 000 British America
3,500,000 Central America
300,000 200,000 500,000
60, 578, 000 135, 278,000
From this it will be seen that at the present day the United States furnishes four-fifths of the gold, and one-third of the silver product of the American continent, and more than four-sevenths of the annual supply of the precious metals from North and South America.
EUROPE. The European continent, which during the middle ages furnished the principal supplies of the precious metals, contributed, during the 16th century, an annual amount of less than one million of dollars.
During the succeeding century, under the stimulus imparted by the extraordinary productiveness of the American mines, those of Europe returned an average yield of about a million and a half, increased in the eighteenth century to four millions, after which they began to decline, and at the commencement of the present century produced about three millions two hundred and thirty thousand dollars.
The amount of gold produced in Europe at the present day is but little over two millions of dollars. The supply of silver has, however, considerably increased of late years, owing to improvements in the process of separating it from lead, and the European product of that metal may now be estimated at something over eight millions.
Great Britain, at the time of the Roman conquest, must have furnished considerable quantities of gold, and even at the present day small quantities are obtained at the mines at Merionethshire, Wales, the value of which, since 1860, may amount to about $250,000; in 186.5 it amounted to 1,664 ounces of gold, equal in value to about $33,000, and this amount is not likely to be much increased in any future year. It is, however, by working its mines of argentiferous galena that Great Britain contributes most to the stock of the precious metals; the silver thus obtained, amounting, in 1852, to 818,325 ounces, worth $1,091,104. In 1865 the supply from this source wa3.724,856 ounces, troy, worth $966,474. Since the beginning of 1856 the quantity of silver separated from lead ores in the United Kingdom amounts to about seven and a balf millions of troy ounces, worth over nine millions of dollars.
France has no gold mines of any value. The sands of the Rhine contain small quantities of the precious metal, and formerly it is thought produced considerable gold. Washings in certain localities are still carried on, and in 1846 the amount obtained in this way was about $9,000. Its silver lead mines are of more importance, and in 1865 produced 18,000 pounds of silver of the value of $288,000.
Spain has been celebrated for its mines of both the precious metals from the earliest ages, and the Phenicians laid them under heavy tribute several centuries before the commencement of the Christian era. The Romans, and afterwards the Moors, continued to work them, and gold was obtained not only from washing the sands of the Duro, the Tagus, and other rivers, but also by mining in the solid rock. The amount of that metal contributed by Spain at the present day is very small, not exceeding $10,000 annually. Of silver it furnishes a more liberal supply, chiefly obtained from its mines of argentiferous galena, amounting in late years annually to over one hundred thousand pounds, worth over $1,600,000.
The most important mines are those of Hiendelaencina, which have produced since 1846, 7,717,000 English ounces of silver, worth about $10,000,000. These are so rich in silver near the surface that the galena often yielded from 130 to 180 ounces to the ton. They have been worked to a depth of 1,200 feet, the yield of silver appearing to decline with the depth of the mine.
That gold was found in Scandinavia at a very early period seems evident from an examination of the implements taken from numerous Scandinavian tumuli of very remote ages, which are preserved and arranged in the museum at Copenhagen, among which are swords, daggers, knives, and other edged instruments, the blades of which are made of gold or copper, with an edge or iron, formed for the purpose of cutting; the profuse application of copper and gold, contrasted with the parsimony used in the expenditure of iron, seeming to prove that gold and copper were much more abuudant than iron among the unknown people who raised the tumuli. But at the present day the silver mines at Kongsberg, in Norway, and the silver lead mines of Sala, in Westmannia, Sweden, are the only Scandinavian mines of any importance. The first have been worked regularly since 1624, and from that date to the present time have yielded 1,840,000 pounds of fine silver, worth twenty-nine and a half millions of dollars. For the last thirty years the annual produce has been $254,000, and the net profit $158,000. The Swedish mines at this day yield rather less than 3,000 pounds of silver, worth $45,000. Of late years the Scandinavian mines have very much declined in value.
The Austrian empire furnishes annually of the precious metals a quantity valued at from two to three millions of dollars. The provinces most productive are Transylvania, Hungary, the Banat, and Bohemia. Saltzburg, Tyrol, and Styria formerly produced considerable quantities of gold and silver, but the yield of these provinces has declined until their annual produce is insignificant. The principal mines of Hungary are those of Schemnitz, Kremnitz, and Neusohl, employing about 15,000 miners, and producing large quantities of the precio us as well as of the useful metals. Those of Schemnitz were opened in 745, and of Kremuitz in 770, and with temporary interruptions have been carried on to the present time. The ores are auro-argentiferous, and are treated with great scientific skill, the results of centuries of experience. They are not of a very productive character, but owing to the extensive scale upon which mining operations are conducted, the eminent engineering and metallurgical skill employed, connected with a rigid system of economy, the mines are still profitably worked, and have enriched their successive proprietors for more than a thousand years. The extensive adit-level to drain the Schemnitz mines, commenced in 1782, was about two-thirds completed in 1850, at an expense of about $200 per fathom. This work is to be ten miles long, and will cut the veins at a depth of 1,380 feet. Mines of gold and silver occur on the western border of Transylvania, near the towns of Nagybanya, Kapnik, and Felsobanya, and also at Zalathna. The ancient works at these mines are on a gigantic scale, but the yield of the precious metals is much less than it was several hundred years ago. The Transylvania mines produce the rare and interesting combination of gold and tellurium. The mines of the Banat are found in a narrow gorge made by the waters of the Danube, forcing a passage through the Carpathian mountains. The ores are principally argentiferous copper, yielding about 120 ounces of silver to the ton, together with a little gold. The mines of Hungary, Transylvania, and the Banat yield annually about 5,400 pounds of gold, worth $1,215,000. The other provinces of the Austrian empire yield, perhaps, 100 pounds mcre, worth from $22,000 to $23,000. Hungary, Transylvania, Bohemia, and the Banat furnish yearly over 90,000 pounds of silver, worth about a million and a half of dollars. That produced in the provinces of Tyrol, Saltzburg, and Styria is so trifling in quantity that no estimate is attempted. Yet these provinces, anciently a part of the Italian province of Illyria, lying in the region of the Noric Alps, poured out such a copious stream of gold two thousand years ago that its great quantity, according to Strabo, caused a decrease of one-third in its price throughout all Italy, and induced the proprietors to employ fewer workmen in order to raise its value again; and Pliny relates that the Roman senate, in order to restrain the excessive production of the precious metals and the consequent fall in their value, limited the number of slaves allowed to work in the mines to 5,000. So rich in gold at that day, and for many centuries afterwards, was the part of the Austrian empire now under consideration, and portions of northern Italy, that the precious metal was found partly in large grains upon the surface and partly in mines, 80 pure that an eighth part only was lost by the process of smelting and refining. Near Brixen, in the Tyrol, were mines which, as late as 1525, produced 52,000 pounds of silver when that metal was six times as valuable as it is now. These mines were the El Dorado of the sixteenth century, and with those of Hungary,