November 7, 2011

Russia, 1824-30: First Stage of Russian Platinum Production

Even to contemporaries, the valuation of Platinum in 1824-28 was problematic, uncertain, sometimes incorrect. In the comment about the St. Petersburg Price Drop, the Russian Platina Price Peak may be dated to November-December, 1825.

1825/6: Assuming the Colombian platina ban was somewhat effective, the large French consumption in 1825 & 1826 can be explained by early Russian platina export.

Citation: Aperçu sur les monnaies russes et sur les monnaies étrangères ..., Vol. 1; Stanislav Shoduar(1836) p.147

1822-1823: Platina was found but not yet fully identified.

In early 1826, von Humboldt calculated the 1824 Oural mine output in Francs (@ Fr 19,500,000/ 5700*32.15.) and it appears that intrinsic Platinum was implied or inferred to the Price of Gold at the monopolist St. Petersburg Mint.

Decades later, authors mistakenly continued to cite this as an actual Russian market 'Gold Price' for the period. It is nowhere evident nor established that unrefined or refined platinum (platina) in Russia ever sold at an intrinsic rate equal to Gold.

The Paris Price for refined Platinum was also not so high, perhaps 2/3rds the Gold Price (in December, 1825) according to Breant's table. However, on other markets this confusion may have advantageously favored speculators as Paris Platinum rose episodically & stratospherically on rumors and shortages.

Citation: Le globe, Volume 3 (1827), p.478

An unconfirmed expert opinion looking back ~80 years. This is may be an erroneous forex calculation (in Paper Rouble rates), the discrepancies below noted.

1) Among contemporary observers, however, the highest Paris-reported period Price for Russian platina was ~ Fr 32. (<£ 1.50), nearly matching a London Price for Colombian ore circa 1825, ~£ 1.55.

2) If otherwise correct, an extraordinarily circumstance occurred: refined Platinum sold at market in Paris for less than the "Ural Price for Crude" cited below at the Peak (December, 1825.) Those traders purchasing w/gold or silver would have paid higher 'metallic equivalent rates' at a Peak - an exceedingly poor (and unlikely) trade at the Troy Ounce, indeed.   Therefore, dubious estimations, 1819-27.

1825: 1 Troy Ounce platina (ore, @ Silver Rouble rate) = £ 2.10 (USD$ 10.14)
Citation: The Mineral industry, Volume 17 (1908), p.718

Official Russian estimation (1824-34)

1824-36: 1 Troy Oz. Platinum (est. avg.) = 22.30 Banco руб (USD$ 4.31)

Citation:Handels-Geographie: Ein Handbuch für Handels-, Gewerbs-, Real- und andere... ; Adolph Nischwitz (1835) p.641

The platina demand in France 1824-1826 exceeded Russian production by ~20%; it seems likely Russian platina exported to Paris.

1822-31: Russian platina production and French platina imports, in Troy Ounces

1918 Historical Platinum Production Summary:

Citation: Traité de chimie appliquée aux arts; Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1833) p.432

The early Platinum years coincided with increasing Russian bond market volatility, with notably higher bond prices (& speculative activity?)

Poud, in English Troy Ounces and Marcs, etc.

As late as the 1860s, this sort of transport from the Ural placers was common. The caravan journey took 5 months?

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