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Going Mainstream With Silver

By: David Bond

-- Posted 20 October, 2006 | |

The Wallace Street Journal


By David Bond, Editor

Silver Valley Mining Journal


Wallace, Idaho – We returned from our weeklong China peregrinations – to wit, a silver and gold conference in Hong Kong and a visit to a truly remarkable silver-mining prospect (about which, much more detail in a forthcoming installment) the other day to find, in the letter slot, the latest catalogue from The Sharper Image.


(For those living in even more remote places in Wallace, The Sharper Image is sort of the entry-level yuppie catalogue, with high-tech gimcracks and gizmos and air purifiers and automatic liquid-soap and toothpaste dispensers, battery-powered pepper grinders, tricked-out airline luggage, tourbillion wristwatches, iPod dockers and things that go bump in the night. The serious yuppie spender then graduates to the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue, after which all that’s left is the relentless pursuit of a vintage E-type Jag to restore or moving to a country where they let you smoke Cohibas and keep your Winchester, too.)


A Sharper Image catalogue is always fun to peruse, if only because it returns one to that primal question, What will they think of next? And it gives one a sense of what their skillful researchers and marketers think yuppiedom will want to buy next.


And there, cazart! in the middle of this latest Sharper Image catalogue, in a double-truck spread, were the latest products featuring the latest in nano-silver technology, to wit, quilts, bedspreads, pillows, socks, foot massagers, sandals and slippers, all impregnated with silver nanoparticles to keep the bugs, bacteria and (yecch!) mites and mold away. We are going to be hearing a lot about silver nanoparticle technology in the very near future. Though not featured in this catalogue, everything from household washing machines and refrigerators to commercial water- and air-purification systems utilizing silver as the nonpareil bacteria-killer that it is, are on the market now, in use, worldwide.


What’s significant is that these pages in this widely disseminated catalogue tell us that silver, as an enhancement to personal living and to the environment, has caught on, is becoming mainstream. The British Army is issuing silver undergarments to its troops in order to cut down on the fungus and bacteria that attack soldiers occupying less-than-hygienic conditions. And now soon yuppies will be pampering their feet with it.


Friend and colleague David Morgan of has published an instructive new book, “Get the Skinny On Silver Investing,” and devotes an entire chapter to the exotic new applications of silver, including: high-temperature superconductivity, silver’s use in the new Radio Frequency ID chips (RFIDs), and let’s not forget silver in cell phones, silver in digital cameras, silver in computers, silver in cars – there’s hardly a modern thing you can touch that doesn’t have at least a trace of the poor man’s gold in it. And ain’t none of that silver goin’ back to the recyclers to return to the supply chain.


One factoid we picked up at the China conference, courtesy of Silvercorp’s Cathy Fong, was that silver consumption in China is growing at an even faster rate than China’s phenomenal growth in GDP. And it’s not because Chinese are hoarding the stuff, though there may well come a time when they will; it’s because 300 million Chinese have joined the industrialized middle class, with another 1 billion to go.


We began our love affair with silver as money nearly a half-century ago, and turned rather grumpy when a banker friend admonished us, back in 1980, that, “It’s not money. It’s just another commodity.” He was half-right. In addition to being money, silver is indeed a commodity. But not “just another” commodity. It is quite likely the most remarkable and essential commodity of the 21st Century. And we have the sweetest smelling socks to prove it.

-- Posted 20 October, 2006 | |

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