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unbekannter Gast


Silver: silver mining probably dates back to prehistoric and ancient times; the most important precious metal in the Late Middle Ages, silver was used to mint the successful Salzburg, Friesach and Vienna "Pfennig". The Styrian silver mines near Schladming and in Oberzeiring (from the 10th century) were important centres. Accordingly, the mining order of Schladming dating from 1408 was adopted by Austrian, German and Venetian mining towns. In Carinthia silver was discovered near Friesach, in the Lavanttal and Gurktal valleys and near Obervellach. Silver mining was financed by aristocrats and commoners; miners were mostly paid according to output, and it was common for children to work in the pits. Tyrol had the richest silver mines (Rattenberg, Sterzing, Klausen, Kitzbuehel, Gossensass and especially Schwaz). Silver mining on territory corresponding to modern Austria reached its peak around 1520/30; approximately 25,000 kg of silver were mined annually, over 20,000 kg of which in Schwaz. There was a sharp decline in silver mining from around 1580/90 (1591/1600: 7,000 kg, Schwaz: 5,000 kg); silver mining declined even more drastically in the 17th century: depletion of deposits, inrushes of water, shortage of wood, over-exploitation, and growing competition of South-American silver had a disastrous effect on the industry. Upper-German trading companies and investors such as the Fugger family, who had played an important role since the late 15th century, lost their interest in silver mining. By the mid-18th century revenues from silver mining had become extremely modest; the most important silver mine between 1760 and 1813 was located in Annaberg in Lower Austria. Today, silver is no longer mined in Austria.


Silber, Erz und weisses Gold, Bergbau in Tirol, Tyrolean provincial exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Schwaz 1990.