Segments in this Video

The Hot Spots (04:40)


Silver has many properties including strength, shine, and ability to kill germs. American pilgrims put a silver coin in milk jugs to prevent spoiling. Learn how precious metals are created.

The Silver Bullet (03:10)

The Greeks beat the Persians in a battle in which they were outnumbered by trading silver coins to pay soldiers and build warships. Silver allowed the Greek civilization to become the basis of the Western world.

Origins of the Dollar (02:04)

Although silver has less monetary value than gold, it has proven to be more valuable to society. Prehistoric volcanoes in the St. Joachim Valley left behind rich silver stashes.

Something Borrowed (02:00)

In 1785, the dollar became the official U.S. currency; the first dollars were Spanish pesos. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors found silver in the Andes Mountains

The Lockbox (01:57)

Potosi houses silver concentrations that are bonded with other metals; mercury draws silver atoms away from lead.

River of Silver (02:00)

Spanish colonizers intended to mine the New World for gold, but found 90 times more silver. China demanded silver as payment for exports.

Blood Money (03:56)

By 1839, Potosi had shrunk 1,000 feet as a result of mining. A silver shortage leads the British to use opium in trade with China and results in a war; Western powers flood Asia.

Credits: Silver Supernova (00:32)

Credits: Silver Supernova

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Silver Supernova

Part of the Series : Big History
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



At critical moments in history, our second place metal was the most important metal on Earth. Big History reveals how silver's place in our minds was determined by the heat of exploding stars, and how this one metal saved democracy.

Length: 22 minutes

Item#: BVL160875

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.