Francis Lieber.

Library of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) online

. (page 118 of 203)
Online LibraryFrancis LieberLibrary of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) → online text (page 118 of 203)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Its solution in a solution of hyposulphite of soda is employed in silvciing iron, copper,
and brass roods. Traces of this salt are found in sea-water, the chloride of sodium

Srobablv acting as the solvent. Bromide of silver (AgBr) is found in Mexico, where it is
nown as phitaterte, or green silver, in the form of f-mall crystals or crystalline granules
of a pale olive-green tint. Iodide of silver (Agl) occurs native in several Mexican mines
in the form of thin, flexible, pearly scales.

Sulphide (or milphuref) of fdlvcr (AgS) is the principal ore of silver, It occurs native,
sometimes crystallized in cubes or octahedra, and sometimes in masses. From its. gray
metallic lustc-r, it has received from mineralogists the name of wlrer glance. It is well
known lhat if silver spoons are allowed to remain in contact with boiled eggs for some
time, they Income tarnished by the action of tbe sulphur; a minute quantity of sulphur-
eted bvdrogen being probably evolved. The discoloration is easily removed by wash-
ing the darkened silver with a solution of cyanide of potassium. Sulphide of silver
unites wiih various other metallic sulphides when fused with them, especially wiih the
sulphides of arsenic and antimony, lied silver ore (3AgS, SbS 3 ) is a native compound of
this kind.

The alloys of silver and copper (see ALT^OY and MINT), when cast into ingots, are
usually found to differ in their composition in the internal and external parts, in con-
sequence of a molecular change that takes place during the cooling and slow solidifica-
tion of the molten ma=s. In bars containing more than 719 parts of silver in 1000, tht
central portions are richer in silver than the exterior; in alloys of less value, the reverse
is observed, while in ingots containing 950 or more parts of sil" D r in 1000, theomposi-
tion is nearly uniform throughout. When exactly 719 parts of silver and 281 of copper
are combined (corresponding to the formula Ag 3 Cu 4 ), no separation whatever of the
metals occurs. Many metals, as tin, zinc, antimony, bismuth, arsenic, etc., when

* Brando gives the following directions for preparing 1 marking ink: Dissolve two drains of nitrate
of silver and One drnm of gum-arabic in seven drams of water, and color the liquid with Indian ink.
The cloth must he first prepared by moistening the spot with a few drops of a soda solution, prepared
by dissolving two ounces of crystallized carbonate of soda and two drams of gum in four ounces of
water. Professor Miller recommends as a cheap indelible marking ink, a solution of coal-tar in
naptha; it resists the action of chlorine, and is used by bleachers to mark their goods.



mixed with silver, render it brittle and unfit for its ordinary uses; they arc, however,
easily removed in the process of refining. An a'.loy consisting of 5 parts of silver, 6 of
brass, and 2 of zinc, is used as a soldi- r lor silver. An alloy of silver and mercury, known
as sil-B, r (i/ntilffiini, occurs native in a crystallized form. It is a mineral of a silvery white
color, and its composition is represented by the formula, Agllgj.

Silver, like gold, has been known and prized from the earliest ages. The silver
mines of .Mexico were, until quite recently, by far the richest known to exist. Their
estimated annual yield is about 1,600,000 Ibs. troy of the pure metal. Until the remarka-
ble discoveries of silver ore in Nevada and adjoining states in 1859 and I860, Chili and
Peru had long stood next to Mexico in their yield, each furnishing about one-sixth of
the produce of that country. Bolivia is also rich in silver; but the recent extraordinary
development of silver mining in the western regions of the United States, appears to
have raised their produce to at least a par with that of Mexico, so that these two coun
tries now furnish three-fourths of all the silver obtained in the world.

Of European countries, Spain is the most productive, the richest mines being thoso
of Iliendelaeacina, in the province of Guadalaxara, which were first extensively opened
in 18i6. These have yielded immense wealth, but their produce has much "declined
since 1838. Silver glance is the principal ore, although several others are found, includ-
ing quantities of the formerly rare mineral freieslebeuite, which contains about 2J per
cent of silver. Next to Spain, Austria, Saxony, and the Ilarz district in northern Ger-
many, yield tho largest supples. Ths silver mines of Konigsberg in Norway are like-
wise valuable, and have been long famous. Great Britain has no silver mines, properly
so called, but since the introduction in 1839 of Pattiusou's process for the desilverizing of
lead smelted from argentiferous galena, a largo quantity has been annually produced in
this way. The highest yield of silver by tin's process was in 1868. and amounted to
841.32S ounces, but owing to the gradual iL-clino since then in the produce of British
lea I, the silver obtained from it had fallen in 1876 to 483,433 ounces (see LEAD). In tho
mineral veins of Cornwall, some " bnnjhjs" of true silver ore have occasionally been
found, but of limited extent.

The form* in which silver is found in nature are numerous, but we need only notice
a few of them. It is frequently found native in crystalizjd and amorphous masses,
which are sometimes of considerable size. One fine piece found at Ko.iigsberg u now in
the Copenhagen museum, and weighs 5)5 11)3. Bat the quantity of silver fou:i 1 ia
nature in the m3tallie state is conpvratively smill. Its principal ores are the diifjrent
S'.ilplii les or snlplmrets, viz., silver glm;e, or sulpliuret of silver, containing w!i;-:i pur?
87 pirts of silver and 13 of sulphur; brittle silvjr o: - 3, or sulp'mret of silver an 1 anii-
mouy, of which the composition is, silver 6<.5, antimony li.7, and sulphur 16.4; a nl
re.l silver ore, called also ruby silver, of which tharois a dark and a light k'uul, tlia coin-
position of ths former being similar to brittle silver ore, but it is a little kr>a rich in
silver, and the; latter o ily differs in containing arssnic instead of antimony. The balk
of the silver obtain: 1 *! in Mjxbo a:i 1 S v.U'i Am -ri^i h got frrn these ores. Tin o-ily
other of much importance, except t'.io mixed ores to be presently no'ieed. h horn silver,
or chlorid; of silver. In a pure slate, it consists of silver 75, and chlorine 21. It occurs
extensively in Mexico an:l Peru, b;it is not common in European mine*.

Bjside the ores nainsd above, a good deal of the silver of commerce is obtained from
mixed ores, that is. the ores of other metals are frequently found to contain it. In many
cases, the amount of silver falls greatly short of one per cent. These ores arc for the
most part sulphurets of lead, arsenic, copper, zinc, and iron.

In the reduction of silver ores, the processes followed are based upon the fact, thnt
both lead and mercury have a strong affinity for silver. A more recent process depends
upon the solubility of chloride of silver in a hot solution of common salt, and its separa-
tion again on cooling.

The simplest process is ordinary smelting, and is only applied to the richest ores.
These are crushed, mix 'd with old slag, lend in some form, and a little iron ore and
lime. The mixture is then heated in a furnace with charcoal, which brings down the
silver and lead together as an alloy. The silver is afterward easily separated by cupel-
lation, the principle of which is described in the article ASSAY; but on the large scale,
instead of a small bon^ ash cupel, a cupell ition furnace, say 6 feet in diameter, is used.
Here (lie alloy is melted, bellows are u<ed to remove the lead as litharge, or oxide of

Slead, ami a cake of silver is left on the cupel forming the bottom of the furnace.
It happens that not many even of the richer ores are pure enough to be treated with
advantage by simply roasting them with lead; accordingly, another plan, called the
amalgamation process, is more commonly adopted. The following is an outline of the
way in which t'li-i is practiced at Freiberg in Saxony. The vein stuff (largely silica),
containing a mixed ore of lend, copper, zinc, etc., as sulphurets, and only from 3 to 3J-
oz. of silver per cwt., is ground to powder as described under METALJ/r.rROY; but some
Bulp'iurct of iron is also present, or must be added. About ten per cent of common salt
is then mixed with the ore, and the mixture heated in are verberatorv furnace (q. v.) tea
temperature sufficient to expel water, and in p:irt arsenic, zinc, and antimony. After
two hours the sulphur of the sulphurets takes five, and is burned off as sulphurous acid,
or converted into sulphuric acid, so that the mc'als become oxides and sulphates. The of the furnace is now raised, when the chlorine of the common salt forms



volatile chlorides with zinc, antimony, and iron, and a fixed chloride with silver.
During tiie roasting, the contents of the furnace are continually stirred, so that they
ultimately form a coarse powder.

The product of the roasting furnace, after being ground to a fine powder, is mixed
in the proportion of 10 cwt. with 3 cwt. of water aud 1 cwt. of iron in fragments; the
mixture being effected in oak casks, which are then made to revolve for two hours on
their axes. During the operation the iron decomposes the metallic chlorides in the
roa-ted ore, forming chloride of iron, while the copper is partly reduced to subchloride
and partly to metallic copper. If there is not enough iron present to convert the copper
into subchloride, then mercury will be wasted in the next stage by conversion into it
subchloride. Quicksilver to the amount of 5 cwt. is next run into each of the casks,
which are then set in motion, and continue for 22 hours at the rate of 12 revolutions per
minute. The result of this is, that the silver being precipitate by the presence of
metallic copper, is then dissolved by the mercury, but the amalgam so formed is usually
a complex one.

In order to separate the amalgam from the earthy matters and the sulphates and
chlorides, the barrels, which were iiitherto only two-thirds full, are now tilled with water
(the dilution throwing down any chloride of silver held in solution by the sea-salt), aud
kept revolving for two hours; alter which, by means of a stop-cock, the amalgam is
allowed to flow into the amalgam chamber, and the rest of the contents, except the iron
fragments, into a wash tun. The superfluous quicksilver has next to be separated from
the amalgam. This is done in bags of licking, through which the mercury at tii>t flows
readily by its own weight, and is afterward squeezed out on a flat surface. The result
of this operation is, that the amalgam of mercury, silver, copper, etc., is left in the bags:
its actual composition being nearly 85 per cent of mercury, 10 per cent of silver, and 5 of
copper, lead, and antimony. Finally, the quicksilver of tbe amalgam itself is separated by
heat in a distilling furnace. Here the amalgam is put into a row of iron pots, which go
into a large retort. When heat is applied the quicksilver volatilizes, and is condensed
in a pipe attached to the retort, from which it is collected in a trough. The impure
silver left in UKJ retort is retiued by fusion aud subsequent cupellatiou.

There is another process carried on at Freiberg and elsewhere, by which the use of
mercury is dispensed with. It consists in treating the ore as above described till it leaves
the roasting-i'urnace. At this stage the roasied oie is digested in a warm concentrated
solution of sea-salt, which readily dissolves the chloride of silver. The solution is then
passed through wooden tubs containing metallic copper, which has the property of
decomposing the chloride of silver: the chlorine unites with the copper to form chloride
of coppc-r, and the silver is precipitated.

[This process is now for the most part abandoned, and at Freiberg an argentiferous
copper matt obtained in smelting mixed ores is treated with sulphuric acitC by which
sulphate of copper is formed, and the silver recovered from the residue.]

In Mexico, where indeed the process was first introduced, the extraction of the silver
from its ores is chiefly accomplished by amalgamation, but the plan employed differs a
good deal in its details from the Saxon method described above. Of late years the
sodium amalgam process of Mr. Crookes has been used with advantage for the extrac-
tion of silver in several American mining districts (see SOPIUM- AMALGAM).

It has now become a common practice at Swansea, where the great British copper-
smelting works are situated, to extract the silver which exists in an appreciable, though
small quantity, in many copper ores. By one process copper smelted from an argen-
tiferous ore is melted with three or four times its weight of lead, and cast into ingots.
When these are moderately heated, the copper docs not fuse, but the lead and silver
melt, and run off together, and the silver is then separated by cupcllation. From the
burnt pyrites of vitriol works, so recently a waste product, not only is the iron and cop-
per, but the silver, which exists in exceedingly small proportion, 'is now recovered by
the usr: of iodide of potassium

The physical ami chemical properties of silver are such as make it specially valuable
for many purposes in the arts; the chief of which are noticed in the articles ALLOY,
MINT. PLATING. GALVANISM, and PIIOTOGUAPIIY. Ordinary mirrors have their xilrfring

in great numbers.

MKDTCINAL USES OF SILVER. Nitrale of iher, in small doses, constitutes nn excellent
tonic, and it appears to exert almost a specific influence over certain convulsive diseax-s.
As a tonic, it is frequently prescribed in the early stages of phthisis, and in cases of
irritability of the mucous membrane of the stomach, and epilepsy and chores frequently
yield to its influence, when many other remedies have been tried in vain. There is
unfortunately one great drawback to its administration viz., that when its use has been,
continued for some time, this salt communicates a permanent slate-like or bluish-gray
hue to the skin. There is very little danger of this change of color occurring, if the
medicine is not administered for a longer period than three months. In prescribinsr this
salt, it is usual to begin with a small dose, about one-sixth of a grain, and gradually to



increase it to two or three grains, three times a day. It is best administered in pills
made with some vegetable extract. The surgical Uses of nitrate of silver have been
already noticed in the article on LUNAU CAUSTIC.

Oxide of xiicer is employed in the same cases as the nitrate. It is especially recom-
mended in chronic affections of the stomach, and in menorrhagia. It may be given in.
the same doses as uitraie. Chloride of xilver lias been employed both in America and in
Germany in the same cases as the nitrate, and in certain forms of syphilitic disease. It
is stated not to produce the discoloration of the skin caused hy the nitrate; but as the
same statement was confidently made regarding the oxide, and was found to be falla-
cious, we are not inclined to put any faith in this assertion, especially as the nitrate
must he at once converted into a chloride by the free hydrochloric acid of the gastric

SILVER (ante). The great silver-mining industry of the United States had no exist-
ence before 1860. While, before that date, it was well known that a few ounces of silver
could be extracted from a ton of almost any of the American galena ores; and while silver
in combination with lead had been found in some instances, and in Davidson co., N. C.,
a mine had been worked with some activity for argentiferous galena, and a little silver
had been found in the gold of California, there had been no discovery made in this
direction wliieh in the least indicated the vast possibilities of American silver production.
The prospectors and pioneers who traversed Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, and other
territories in the far west, seeking for gold, in the years between 1850 and I860, fell upon
silver unexpectedly. Ihe greatest silver mine ever kr.own was discovered in this way in
1858-55), in the Washoe country, on the eastern foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada. This was
the celebrated " Comstock" mine, which was found by James Shinney an llenry Corn-
stock, both cf whom yaned with their interest for a tiifle, not discerning the value of
the discovery. The C.omstock lode is situated in Storey co., Nevada, 25 m. from the w.
border of the state, and in. from Ecr.o, on the Union Pacific railroad. A portion of
the mine was worked in IbCO-Gl, and by 18C5 it had yielded to the value of $30,OCO,OCO;
and a city of 20,000 inhabitants was planted on its site. Sec VIRGINIA CITY. From 1859
to 1SGG the total product of the mines on the Comstoek lode was about $70,000.000. The
tremendous result cf this discovery encouraged further prospecting, and it was soon
found that the mountains of Colorado were full cf similar veins; Idaho find Montana
became in their turn silver-bearing territory; suid the Wasatch range, looking down into
the Salt Lake valley, wrs found to be rich "in silver-bearing lodes. Up to Dec., 1878, the
value of the silver yield ~f Colorado was al out $16,000,000. Two years later, the mineg
o! Leadville alone, not discovered till 1877, yielded as much. The effect of the increased
production of silver has been marked and important. From authoritative sources it is
known that the exportation of the metal from countries w. to countries e. of Egypt,
which was < 20.000,000 in 1873. had increased in 1877 to f 100,000,000. The mining
fever of 1865-70 produced its inevitable result of calamity in 1873. which the discovery
of the great " Bonanza" of the California and Consolidated Virginia only temporarily
lulled. The interest in silver mines fell off with the hui sting of bubble companies, and
if was not until the remarkable Colorado discoveries had been fully authenticated in
1878-79, that a fresh enthusiasm brought silver-mining again into repute. See MINING
STOCK COMPANIES. Following arc the total gold and silver product of Nevada to 1879,
and the silver product of the Comstock lode:

Nevada. Comstock,

Gold and Silver. Silver.

1859 $100.000

I860 500.000 $200,000

1861 2.SGO.OOO 500,000

1862 6,COO,000 1.800,000

1863 12,500,000 6,500,COO

1804 16,800,000 11,000,000

1865 16,800.000 10,000,000

186 16,000,000 IO,COO,OCO

1867 20,000.000 13,200,000

1868 15,000.000 ll.COO.OOO

1869 14.500.000 10.SOO.OCO

1870 16,000.000 9,500.000

1871 22,500.000 i;?,COO,COO

1872 25,600,000 15.000,000

1873 35,000.800 21,000,000

1874 35,500.000 20,800,000

1875 40.000,000 24,700,000

1876 49,300,000 36,500,000

1877 51,500,000 35,800.000

1878 85,000,000 19,000,000

Si aims.


Annual product of silver in the United States, 1858-1879:

1853 $500, COO

1859 100,000

1860 150,000

1361 2,000,000

1362 4,500,000

1363 8,500,000

1334 11,000,000

1835 11.C50.0CO

13G3 10,000,000

1C67 13,500,000

1368 .. 12,000,000

1869 $12,000,000

lb?0 16.000.000

1871 23,000,000

1872 28,750,000

1873 35,750,000

1874 37. 324, 594

1875 31,727,500

1876 38,78:5.01 6

1877 39,793,573

1878 45,281.385

1879 40,812,132

Production of silver by states and territories iu the United States for the year ending
June 30, 1879:

California $2,400,000

Nevada 12,560,000

Colorado 11,700,000

Montana 2,225,000

Idaho 650,000

Utah 6,250,000

Arizona 3,550,000

New Mexico 600,000



Oregon $20,000

Washington 20.000

Dakota 10,000

Michigan (lake Superior). 780,000

CKher sources. . 47.000


SIMARTJBA'CEJE, a natural order of exogenous plants, consisting of trees and shrubs;
with alternate, generally compound leaves, without stipules; regular, generally hermaph-
rodite flowers. The species are not numerous; they are found iu the tropical parts of
Asia, Africa, and America. The whole order is characterized by great bitterness. Quassia
(q.v.) and bitterwood (q.v ) belong to it. The seeds of siinaba cedron, a small tree found
in the isthmus of Darien and neighboring countries, are known by the name of cedron,
are intensely hitter, and are greatly esteemed in Central America and New Granada as a
cure for intermittents, dyspepsia, and other diseases. SIMARUBA BARK, employed as a
tonic in dyspepsia, dysentery, etc., is the bark of the roots of simaruba amara, a native
of the West ludies, called mountain damson in Jamaica. It was first brought to Europe
in 1.713.

SIMBIRSK', a government of Russia, bounded on the e. by the Volga, and on the w.
by the irovernments of Nijui-Novgorodand Penza. Area, 19,050 sq.m. ; pop. '70, 1,205,-
881. The surface is for the most part level, and the soil of remarkable fertility, and there
are excellent and extensive meadows and pasture-grounds. The fisheries and the com-
merce on the Volga, and cattle-breeding, are important.

SIMBIRSK, capital of the Russian government of the same name, on the riirht bank
of the Volga. 220 m. s.e. of Nijni-Novgorod. Leather, soap, and candles are manufac-
tured, considerable trade is carried on by the Volga, and there is a famous annual fair.
During the years 1864 and 1865 Simbirsk suffered severely from fires. Pop. '67, 24,007.

SIMCOE, a co. in Ontario, Canada, bounded by Georgian bay and lake Huron on the
n. w., and by lake Simeoe and Severn river on the e. ; crossed by the Northern railroad;
1665 sq.m. ; pop. '70, 57.389 English, Irish, Scotch, and French. The principal inter-
ests are lumbering and shipping. Co. seat, Barrie.

at the battle of the Brandy wine and at Monmouth; was with Cornwnllis at Yorktown.

Rewrote the history of the exploits of his battalion; was governor of upper Canada
1791-94, governor of St. Domingo, 1796-97; lieut.gcn., 179S'; died in England. Lake
Simeoe iu Ontario was named in his honor. A journal of his campaigns was published
for private circulation.

' , SIMCOE. LAKE, in central Ontario, having the counties of Ontario nnd York on the
s. shore, Simeoe co. and the river Severn on llie north. It is 30 m. lonj. 18 m. wide,
and 170 ft. above lake Huron, into which it discharges through the Severn! lake Conch-
iching, and Georgian bay. White fish arc found abundantly,' and on Snake island is - nn
Indian reservation. The margins are covered with thick forests. In the winter it ia
so solidly frozen ar? to be a serviceable highway.

SIMEON, Rev. CHAHI.KB, an eminent evnngelirnl preacher of the English church, was
b. at Reading in Berkshire, Sept. 24. 1758. Educated at Eton nnd Cambridge, he
was ordained a priest in 1782. His first lelLinus impressions occurred during his resi-
dence at the university, and produced a permanent change in his character. From being
t somewhat vain and dressy young gentleman, he passed into an ardent, and zealous
preacher of the cross, and this he remained during the 54 years of his public ministry.

K-t o Silvering.


His career was not marked by many incidents. Appointed vicar of Trinity church, Cam-
bridge, ill the year of his ordination, and vice-provost of his own college (King's) in
1790, he continued to hold these offices to the close of his life, Nov. 13, 1836. As a
preacher Simeon was distinguished for an impassioned evangelicalism in language, senti-
ment, and doctrine, that at first roused against him a bitter and protracted opposition.
His earnestness, however, met with its due reward. Friends and followers sprang up;
and in course of time Simeon became a center of evangelical influence, that began to
spread itself over the whole church, and gave birth to its great missionary activity in
recent years. Simeon may even be regarded as the founder of the " Low-church" party,
and on the whole, fairly represents their earnestness, dogmatism, mediocre intellect, and
limited scholarship. For an account of Simeon's life and labors, see Memoirs of the lien.
Charles Simeon, by the rev. W. Carus (Lond. 1857). Simeon's librae, HomiletiaE (21 vols.,
1832) are very popular among sermon-readers and sermon-makers of evangelical ten-


SIMEON, TRIBE OF, containing at the exocius 59,300 men fit for war, was reduced
in the wilderness to 22,000. This great decrease, bringing down the tribe from the
third place to the lowest in point of numbers, was much more than the aggregate loss
of the four other diminished tribes; while the remaining seven had been largely

Online LibraryFrancis LieberLibrary of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) → online text (page 118 of 203)