Aluminium Used to be Costlier than Gold

By Anupum Pant

Unlike gold and silver, there is enough Aluminum in the world. It is in fact, the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Also, it is about two times more abundant than Iron – an element which has a complete  branch of metallurgy revolving around it – Abundance of Aluminium is 2 times of that! Still, for the middle class of the 19th century, bricks made of Aluminium were things they could only dream to buy – Aluminium costed more than gold back then.

The same metal, Aluminium, certainly shines like silver. But our generation almost has no respect for it. Today, it is one of those blasé metals that is used to make disposable soda cans.

Back then, the US, to show off its wealth, decided to cap the Washington monument with a 3 kg pyramid of Aluminium. Later, since enterprising individuals found out a way to extract it in a very efficient manner, Aluminium became something that was not all that rare. People in the 19th century knew how precious it was. That was because, back then there was no good way to extract aluminium from its ore.

In the 19th century Napoleon III invited the King Siam to a dinner. He then gave himself Gold Cutlery, his troops Silver & the King of Siam Aluminium. This was no insult but an honour because aluminium was the most valuable metal on the planet at that time. Today, aluminium is $1,800 a ton while Gold is $50 million. – [Source]

In the mid-1800s, an Aluminum ingot would sell for about $550 per pound. Fifty years later, it costed around 25 cents for the same amount. What changed? Extraction.

Ambergris – Whale Vomit Can Make You Rich

By Anupum Pant

It is yellow/gray, smells really bad and can make you rich [image]. Ambergris, or commonly known as whale vomit is a waxy, hard, flammable substance that sells for several thousand dollars a pound. Although it is known as whale vomit, it is usually excreted (not vomited) by the sperm whale. It is formed by the lumping of Bilary Secretions in a whale. They can’t be digested and are often excreted by whales. These lumps can float for years and might get washed to the beach or are found in whale abdomen.

A fresh lump would be black and slowly a lighter colored coating forms on it with age. Generally, lighter colored pieces have a sweeter smell because they have cured in the ocean for a longer time.

What makes it so costly?

Firstly, it is rare to find a lump of Ambergris. Secondly, as this substance ages, it leaves the stink and starts emitting a sweet, musky odor. Not all people like this smell. Other than its unique scent, the perfumes made of this substance last much longer than other scents that tend to evaporate. Both these reasons make it a substance in high demand.

Although the scent can be mimicked by using chemicals, there is nothing like using the real substance. Thus, whale vomit will always carry a premium price.

This year, Ken Wilman, while walking his dog on the beach, spotted a 6 lb lump of whale vomit that turned out to be worth £100,000.
Note to self: So, the next time you are going out for a walk on the beach, take your dog with you. And go on walks more often.

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