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.