THE SOURCES OF METALS.

The source of raw materials is always a matter of importance to those who are engaged in manufacture ; at times there is a scarcity of the material, and then comes a day of high prices and a shortage of supply of the manufactured article. In some places certain metals have ever been plentiful, and the people of those countries have been able to spare some for nations less fortunate, and from this source of wealth they have prospered. The superabundance of mineral wealth in the past no doubt led to commerce and exportation and was an incentive to discovery and travel. It was the cause also of unjust oppression by the mighty, and we can recall many instances in history where the greed for gold and silver occasioned pillage and sometimes the destruction of whole tribes, and the confiscation of their lands, by more powerful nations. The ancients found out the use of those metals which could be the more easily utilised for the making of domestic plate ; the precious metals became the most treasured possessions of kings, and of the priests of heathen temples, and afterwards of newer religions. The destiny of nations has often hung in the balance, dependable upon metallic supply, their power of possession of all things has depended upon their ability to secure the needful coin or bullion ; and in some instances metals of lesser value. To ascertain the origin of art treasures of gold and silver and of the other metals which at different periods have indicated wealth, it is necessary to enquire into the source of metals and to name those countries which have been noted for the stores of raw material which would enable them to produce a plentiful supply of these things for their own consumption and for the world's use. In " Antique Jewellery and Trinkets," an earlier volume of the " Home Connoisseur Series," which may be read as a companion work to " SILVER : PEWTER : SHEFFIELD PLATE," an entire chapter is devoted to the origin of " Gold, Silver and other Metals," and it is unnecessary to repeat here the detailed information there given. To summarise briefly, however, the source of metals used in the production of table and ornamental plate it may be pointed out that Britain was one of the early mine fields of the world. There were British gold and silver, and copper, tin and lead to be found in Cornwall, and in a lesser degree in other parts of Britain. The Phoenician merchants came for tin and bought other metals too. The wonderful relics of the Celtic tribes who inhabited Britain, and of the still earlier natives who had gold which they made up into jewellery and coins or rings indicate their wealth in metals. Important mines have been worked on the Continent of Europe, especially in Saxony and in the Hartz mountains where there have been large outputs of silver. The ancients obtained silver from Attica and the wealth of ancient Greece was mostly in silver coin derived from that source. In succeeding times the silver mines of Spain produced large quantities of the useful metal. Then came the discovery of the New World and later the wealth of Spain, derived from America, which was from time to time diverted to the use of other European countries. It was from the Spanish treasure ships that much silver was obtained for the manufacture of silver plate in England in early days. In more recent times silver has been obtained direct from Mexico, Chili, and Peru-and Nevada too, has yielded rich veins of silver. When we turn to Eastern nations there is revealed an immense wealth in silver plate, but the domestic vessels of the ancients were few compared with those devoted to the worship of deities and to the decoration of temple shrines. Metallic ores are scattered all over the world, and gold and silver and tin (an essential in the production of pewter) are to be found in many countries, accounting for the very general use of metals throughout the periods following the Bronze Age, during which copper and tin were known and used in the form of bronze.