Silver mining history and its use – Part Two

Pohled na důl Vojtěch, silnice, přes silnici je hranatá zdobená budova dolu Vojtěch


Most silver mines were known in the ancient times and the Middle Ages. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to find undiscovered deposits. In ancient times, silver was mined especially in Greece and Spain. Later it was also mined in Germany and in Czechia. Spanish mines were one of the biggest and oldest mines in Europe. Old Phoenicians also mined silver there and they got rich very quickly. Legends say that they used silver anchors instead of copper ones on their ships.

Czech lands

According to the legends silver was mined in Bohemia since 7th century. A real boom in silver mining came in the 13th and 14th centuries when rich deposits of silver ores were found and mined in Jihlava, Kutná Hora, Jáchymov, Příbram, Havlíčkův Brod, Kolín, Český Krumlov, Měděnec, Rudolfov, and Ratibořické Hory. Due to the extensive silver mining new legal acts had to be adopted. The world-known Czech mining code was inspired by older Jihlava’s mining code as well as the younger code used in Kutná Hora. This code was the first written legal norm of its kind in Europe and it served as an example to other European countries. In Slovakia mining activities were concetrated in the area of Banská Štiavnica, Kremnica, Hodruša-Hámre, and Partizánska Ľupča.

Town of Kutná Hora

Kutná Hora became famous for its huge, deep and rich silver mine called Osel. The biggest yields were reached in 1505 when 92 kilograms of silver were mined from the mines. The silver mine of Osel reached the depth of 500 metres as the first silver mine in the world. Prague groschen were minted in Vlašský dvůr (Italian Court) from 1300 to 1547. They were valid as a means of payment till 1644.

District of Březové Hory (Příbram)

In 1875 in silver mine Vojtěch a new record was achieved. It was the first silver mine reaching the depth of 1,000 metres where only one hoisting cable was used. Beautiful silver altar at Svatá hora near Příbram shows former riches of silver mines in the district of Březové Hory. Unfortunately, the biggest mine accident in the world and in Czechia also took place on the 31st of May in 1892 in the 29th floor of Marie mine where the fire burst out and 319 miners died.

Town of Jáchymov

High-yield mining was possible due to relatively shallow placement of rich ores under the surface where fine wire silver was easy to mine. It can be cut and without smithing it can be processed right into a mint. In the first half of the 16th century in the Jáchymov mine district there were over 1,344 mine workshops in operation and in the area around the silver mines there were employed approx. 10,000 people. The work “De re Metallica libri XII” by a doctor Georgius Agricola from Jáchymov dealt with mining techniques, procedures, and driving in the first half of the 16th century.

Source: Lomy a těžba