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    Where Did The Potosi Silver Go? Silver Isotopes Solve Inflation Question In Tudor And Stuart Europe
    By News Staff | November 14th 2012 10:30 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    The Price Revolution in Europe, the runaway inflation that occurred during the years between 1515 to 1650, has been attributed to the sudden influx of silver from Mexico and Peru after discovery of the New World, which led to the decline in the value of of silver, and the growth of the European population and therefore competition for goods, which drove up prices.

    Analysis of silver, copper, and lead isotope abundances in English coinage from the years 1550-1650 does show the dominance of silver from Europe and Mexico, but also shows a remarkably small contribution from Peru. That observation is not consistent with the official registration of metal production in the mines of the Spanish Americas, which showed a lot of mines in Peru.

    Which leads to the question: Where did Potosi silver go? 

    A novel chemical observation published in GEOLOGY indicates that Mexico silver was exported eastward, whereas Potosi silver flowed westward. Though aware of the Pacific route of silver trade, scholars never agreed upon the volumes transported. This new finding shows some of the extent of the Potosi-China commercial trade and its disconnection from the Mexico-Europe routes.

    Paper: Anne-Marie Desaulty and Francis Albarede (corresponding), Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Université de Lyon 1, and CNRS, 69007 Lyon, France; and Dept. of Earth Science, Rice University. Posted online November 6th 2012; doi: 10.1130/G33555.1.