Mexican Silver in England

First image of Potosi in Europe
First image of Potosi in Europe

In a previous post I had explained how the Spaniards ended up with a mother lode of wealth when they conquered the Americas. They were able to mine silver from places like Potosi from where silver was extracted and sent back to Spain. Between 1560 and 1685 CE, Spanish America sent between 25,000 to 35, 000 tons of silver to Spain and in the century following that the amount doubled causing an inflation in Europe. But if you analyze the English coins during that period, you see traces of Mexican silver, but not Potosi silver. Today there is an explanation.

Geography may explain this, she says: It was easier to ship Mexican silver eastward to Europe than to get Potosí silver across the breadth of Brazil. Instead, Potosí silver went west, from Lima to Acapulco and onward to markets in China. Scholars have known of this westward trade route before, which probably didn’t become really important until the early 17th century, says John Munro, an economist at the University of Toronto.[Mexican silver made it into English coins]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *