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Mexican silver made it into English coins

Chemical tests of currency help reveal where New World riches flowed

Chemical studies of old English coins are helping unravel a centuries-old mystery: What happened to all the silver that Spaniards dug out of the New World?

Silver from Mexican mines started being incorporated into English coins around the mid-1550s, a new study shows. But silver from the legendary Potosí mines, in what is now Bolivia, didn’t show up until nearly a century later, researchers report online November 6 in Geology.

The new study adds hard data to theories linking the transatlantic influx of silver to price inflation across Europe from about 1515 to 1650.

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