Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

210 × 148 mm
208 pages
106 illustrations, 98 in colour
01 May 2017

Silver Nature and Culture Lindsay Shen

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. Through­out 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.

“Shen has the passion, turn of phrase, and international expertise to write a book about the history of humanity’s use of silver and how it has impacted languages, cultures, science, economics, and politics. While most people are familiar with silver coins, jewelry, tableware, and bullets, Shen also uncovers the use of silver in medicines, electronics, medical devices, and modern clothing. Even though silver has always symbolized purity, Shen firmly elucidates that its acquisition and processing involved wars, slavery, and environmental destruction.’ – Choice

‘As part of a broader Earth series tracing the historical significance and cultural history of natural phenomena, Lindsay Shen, director of art collections at Chapman University in California, provides an overview of silver as both precious useful metal, exploited for its beauty as much as its chemistry.’ – Crafts Magazine

Show all

Lindsay Shen is Director of Art Collections at Chapman University, California. She is the author of Knowledge is Pleasure: Florence Ayscough in Shanghai (2012).