Author(s): Lindsay Shen
Reaktion Books | No Category
From silver spoons to silver bullets, silver permeates our everyday culture and language. For millennia we've used it to buy what we need, adorn our bodies and trumpet our social status. Silver vanquishes our insecurities, as well as vampires, werewolves and our smelly socks. Once valued primarily for its beauty and rarity, silver is now also exploited for its chemistry; while it used to lubricate markets, bolster dowries and pay armies, now it permeates our electronics, textiles and medical devices. Silver was formed through the supernovas of stars, and its history continues to be marked by cataclysm. Through currency and trade, it brought the continents of the Americas, Europe and Asia closer together; then, through war and trade imbalance, it destabilized empires. It encouraged great technological virtuosity to discover, extract and refine the precious metal, and ingenuity to restore the landscapes its mining had despoiled. Through-out its history silver has inspired greed and ruination, yet it also cleanses water and wounds. Once used as a mirror, it reflects our most human needs and desires.
Featuring many glistening illustrations of silver in nature and art, jewellery, film, advertising and popular culture, this is a superb overview of a metal that is both precious and useful, with a rich and eventful history.
Lindsay Shen is Director of Art Collections at Chapman University, California. She is the author of Knowledge is Pleasure: Florence Ayscough in Shanghai (2012).