by Philippa Merriman
Harvard University Press, 2009
Cloth: 978-0-674-03094-7
Library of Congress Classification NK7104.M47 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 739.23


The curious course of silver through human history unfolds in this rich and engaging book, accompanied by striking illustrations from the British Museum.

Philippa Merriman takes the reader back to the earliest uses of silver: in ingots and coins, dowries, hoards, and college plate. She shows us how silver demonstrated status—whether for an individual, as ornament, furnishings, and a store of wealth; or for a society, as grave decor, civic regalia, and ritual goods. And she traces the long and fascinating history of silver’s service as personal adornment—on heads, hands, wrists, ears, legs, and feet, and as accessories ranging from swords and baldrics to snuffboxes, walking sticks, fans, and chatelaines.

From the practical aspects of working silver to its role in magic, myth, and ritual in cultures as disparate as the Vikings and the Bedouins of North Africa, this exquisite book offers a full and fitting reflection of this precious metal’s power to move us.