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Silver, The Abundant Metal: Mexico

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Chapter Summary

In early Spanish America, however, the discovery of abundant lodes of silver, particularly in Mexico, Upper Peru (present-day Bolivia), and Lower Peru (present-day Peru), constituted a bonanza for the Old- World colonizers. In Mexico the wealth of the silver mines at Catorce, Guanajuato, Parral, Real del Monte, and Zacatecas became legendary. Native Americans mined silver and gold long before Europeans arrived in the New World, using methods that the Spanish colonizers often adopted. Ground sluicing for mining gold in New Granada was a good example. Spaniards found these techniques useful because native laborers were familiar with them. In Mexico, Spaniards introduced the patio process for amalgamating silver. Unlike Bolaos, Guanajuato, Pachuca, Sombrerete, Zacatecas, and Zimapn, all dominated by a few rich mines, Guadalajara was a treasury which registered silver for a large number of small- and medium- sized producers.

Keywords: lower Peru; Mexico; new world silver output; silver mines; Spanish colonizers; upper Peru



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