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Lots of silver, not much gold

Goldberry

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Did anyone notice that the most precious of metals in LoTR is silver. Very little is made of gold.

Silver:
1. The green elfstone is set in silver
2. The star of elendil is set in a silver fillet
3. In Rivendell, Arwen wears "a cap of silver lace", and her dress had "a girdle of leaves wrought in silver"
4. Arwen's evenstar gem is set in silver
5. The sceptre of Annuminas is a silver rod
6. The crown of the kings of Gondor is all white, and "the wings on either side were wrought of pearl and silver"
7. Mithril mail shirt, mithril being exceedingly valuable
8. The wood box Galadriel gives Sam has a silver rune on the lid
9. Boromir's horn was bound with silver
10.The ancient horn Eowyn gives Merry is "wrought all of fair silver"
11.Boromir wore a "collar of silver in which a single white stone was set"
12.Elrond wore a circlet of silver upon his head


Gold
1. The one ring
2. The belt Galadriel gives Boromir
3. The elven ring worn by Elrond

Silver and gold:
1. Merry & Pippin's belts from Galadriel, silver with a clasp like a golden flower
2. The sheath Galadriel gives Aragorn for Anduril, has silver and gold leaves on it

Any ideas why Tolkien would have used silver more than gold?
 

Eonwe

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um I don't know why more silver than gold.

Mithril I thought was supposed to be aluminum. ??
 
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Harad

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Mithril is a special alloy of aluminium and magnausium, tempered with Queen Titanium. It is lighter than buckeyballs and stronger than orcsweat.
 

Beorn

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Perhaps silver was used to imitate mithril, as brass on cheap jewelery?
 

Grond

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Another name for mithril was truesilver because it had the color and lustre of silver but the hardness of adamant or diamond. Maybe since there was little truesilver left in the world, something that imitated it would be valued more highly than gold. Just a thought.
 

Goldberry

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Originally posted by Grond
Another name for mithril was truesilver because it had the color and lustre of silver but the hardness of adamant or diamond. Maybe since there was little truesilver left in the world, something that imitated it would be valued more highly than gold. Just a thought.
That is a good point. I wonder if Tolkien also liked the "whiteness" of silver, equating white with goodness.

Originally posted by Harad
Mithril is a special alloy of aluminium and magnausium, tempered with Queen Titanium. It is lighter than buckeyballs and stronger than orcsweat.
And more pleasing to the olfactory organ than orcsweat.
 
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Mormegil

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Perhaps more Silver than Gold was used because there was not much Gold to be mined.
Maybe the people of ME liked the look of Silver more than Gold.
 

Zale

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I like silver better than gold (it's less expensive!). Perhaps it's because gold is more gaudy, & silver is modest. Bragollach: very good point, that's probably it.
 

Dhôn-Buri-Dhôn

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Maybe sometimes when referring to silver, they are really speaking of mithril. After all, it had the color of silver but was much rarer and more precious. It was also called "truesilver".

And because it was the most highly prized metal, "ordinary" silver may have been valued for its resemblance to mithril.
 

Camille

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Or maybe Professor Tolkien liked silver more than gold.
Actually I prefer silver :D
 

Grond

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Originally posted by Donnie B.
Maybe sometimes when referring to silver, they are really speaking of mithril. After all, it had the color of silver but was much rarer and more precious. It was also called "truesilver".

And because it was the most highly prized metal, "ordinary" silver may have been valued for its resemblance to mithril.
Err... Ummm... Look six post above yours and you will see something that might look a little familiar. ;)
 

Eonwe

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ok just to explain my aluminum thingy, which some of you may think is silly :)

I'm not an expert in metallurgy (that word sounds like a burp)

I read that in Europe aluminum was incredibly rare, and since it could be easily beaten into items of armor and sculpture and of course is quite hard with little weight (try lifting an aluminum rim vs. steel! OUCH!) it was treasured above Gold. I think Napoleon had some items made out of it. And of course, perhaps the dwarves knew how to anodize it (making it much harder) LOL! :) OK nerd engineer joke, just trust me its funny.

Anyway wearing chain mail made of aluminum vs. steel would be a huge weight difference and would provide nearly the same protection against projectiles, swords, etc.

oh well...
 

Paul

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It seemed to me that gold was something that corrupted like the one ring but the silmarils seemed to be a bright silver, so who knows.
 

Lantarion

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Well the Silmarils weren't silver actually.. It never was 'discovered' what material Fëanor used to make them.
But I've noticed this gold/silver situation often before.. And although a lot of great suggestions have been offered, I think another one would be that gold represented Aman, a sort of Heaven, something otherwordly and mythically Edenic; whereas silver, more common and perhaps less visually appealing than gold (which had a shining yellow colour, as opposed to simple shining grey), represented Middle-earth and all mortal lands because it was less valuable.
If I remember correctly, the domes of the buildings of Tirion were of gold (mayb they weren't though..), whereas all things Númenórean are often connected to silver and not gold. Here the contrast would be in terms of mortality vs immortality.

Just some thoughts (what an old thread!!). :)
 

Ithrynluin

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In Middle-Earth gold was always more susceptible to being tainted I think, as opposed to silver. I always associated silver with elves (as well as Laurelin, the elder, silver tree of Valinor; and the Moon which arose before the Sun), and gold with humans who were always more liable to be corrupted just like gold (plus, wasn't the sun the sign of the inevitable and approaching Dominion of Men?). I guess there is some subtle connection between all this and the reason why the Elves associate themselves with silver more than with gold, and prefer making artifacts out of/with silver.
 

Ravenna

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ithrynluin said:
In Middle-Earth gold was always more susceptible to being tainted I think, as opposed to silver. I always associated silver with elves (as well as Laurelin, the elder, silver tree of Valinor; and the Moon which arose before the Sun), and gold with humans who were always more liable to be corrupted just like gold (plus, wasn't the sun the sign of the inevitable and approaching Dominion of Men?). I guess there is some subtle connection between all this and the reason why the Elves associate themselves with silver more than with gold, and prefer making artifacts out of/with silver.
I think ithrynluin may be on to something here. the silver tree was the elder of the two, and was also the only one of which any resemblance remained within ME, or as far as I am aware, in the whole of Arda. But if I may venture to correct. It was Telperion who was the silver tree, Laurelin was golden.
 

Gandalf The Grey

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The quote below is taken from a fascinating article at http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/tolkien/55744.

The article specifically mentions that silver, unlike gold, does not have a tendency towards evil in Middle Earth.


Why gold? I've had that question put to me a few times now. Where on Earth did I get the idea that dragons might draw power from gold, or, more specifically, that there was something special about gold when it came to magic?

Well, I neglected to mention one crucial paragraph when I was citing Tolkien's essay (which, by the way, Christopher Tolkien called "Notes on motives in the Silmarillion" -- the Morgoth-element paragraphs were lifted from near the end of section ii).

When last we referred to Tolkien's view on how the magic worked for Sauron, he had said: "...Morgoth's power was disseminated throughout Gold, if nowhere absolute (for he did not create Gold) it was nowhere absent. (It was this Morgoth-element in matter, indeed, which was a prerequisite for such 'magic' and other evils as Sauron practised with it and upon it.)"

But what follows explains my fascination with gold, and why I think dragons might have been able to sustain themselves upon it:

It is quite possible, of course, that certain 'elements' of conditions of matter had attracted Morgoth's special attention (mainly, unless in the remote past, for reasons of his own plans). For example, all gold (in Middle-earth) seems to have had a specially 'evil' trend -- but not silver. Water is represented as being almost entirely free of Morgoth. (This, of course, does not mean that any particular sea, stream, river, well, or even vessel of water could not be poisoned or defiled -- as all things could.)

So, there is no specific dragon connection but Tolkien did at least give some thought to gold's peculiar place in the hierarchy of what we could call "magical substances" in Middle-earth. Gold is a fascinating element. It's the third most conductive metal we know of (only copper and silver being more effective). In it's purest form gold can be safely eaten (although gold bouillion is quite expensive, I'm told) though it has no real nutritive value for us. Dragons may or may not have benefitted from soaking up some ounces.
 

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