Bancroft Library Roundtable: The Business of Silver and Gold: Comstock Mines, California Finance, and the Production of Money in the Gilded Age West, 1860-1879
Lecture | May 17 | 12-1 p.m. | Faculty Club, Lewis-Latimer Room
Rick Elliott, doctoral candidate, History, and Arthur J. Quinn Memorial Fellowship recipient, The Bancroft Library, University of Illinois at Chicago
The discovery and mining of precious metals were central to the development of the American West, from the initial gold rush in 1848 through the end of the nineteenth century. But how was the region's silver and gold actually transformed into money--specie and bullion--and how did their production affect the American economy? Surveying the development of Nevada's Comstock Lode from 1860 to 1879, Elliott charts the production of these complex commodities from the mine to the mint and into circulation. By viewing California and Nevada as producers of bullion for a growing national financial system, Elliott offers a new perspective on the history of western mining and the region's role in the Gilded Age economy. The presentation will focus, in part, on how The Bancroft Library's collections have helped the speaker piece together the network of mines and mills on the Comstock, banks and brokers in San Francisco, and the rest of the nation's burgeoning financial system.