The History of Platinum

Platinum Pamp Suisse Bar

Platinum resides on the periodic table of elements, along with 5 other platinum-group metals, at the atomic number of 78. Known for its silvery luster, density, ductility, malleability and unreactivity this tarnish resistant heavy metal has quickly earned its place in the modern economy.

Since its early discovery, sometime between the 1500’s and 1700’s, Its uses have included decor, parts in the automotive industry, uses in modern technologies, and more recently, an investment commodity.

The History...

Found in the alluvial sands of numerous rivers in South America, Colonial Spaniards in Mexico named it “platina” as they saw it as a lesser form of silver, or “plata”. This is where the common name Platinum was derived. In the past it was seen as more of a nuisance than a usable resource. This is due to its high melting point of 3,214.9 °F. With primitive refining processes, early discoverers were unable to use this metal so much of the newly mined platinum was discarded. It was not until Antonio de Ulloa had brought a sample of platinum back to Spain in 1746 that platinum was scientifically evaluated. By 1751, Platinum had been successfully melted down and had been officially classified as an element.

Antonio de Ulloa

Between the years of 1751 and 1820, Platinum had mainly been mined from Columbia. This changed when Columbia ceased exporting the metal and platinum was discovered in the Ural Mountains in Russia. This discovery in Russia led to the production of platinum rubles, a platinum version of the Russian currency. The platinum ruble gives way to crediting Russia with the introduction of platinum into a symbol of wealth.

Russian Ruble

"This discovery in Russia led to the production of platinum rubles".

A mere 60 years later, in 1880, Canadians located platinum in their Ontario based nickle and copper ores. Ontario's sighting of platinum paved the way to its production dominance after World War I. This would soon be overridden after platinum's emergence in South Africa, today’s current major supplier of this resilient metal.

In the 1970’s the Arab Oil Embargo inflated precious metal prices. The inflated prices not only hit silver and gold but this new platinum metal as well. In reaction to these inflated prices Japan utilized platinum as an investment for individuals in the form of bars. Soon after, Europe and the United States of America would follow suit. It would be 27 years later that we see the creation of the American Platinum Eagle, the United States’ official platinum bullion. Around 200 years after its official discovery, Platinum had gained its spot in the investor community.

Holland Silver Daalder

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