Saturday, September 15, 2012

When Aluminum was Worth more than Gold!!!

History has forever been a passion of mine and I am sure for many of you reading this blog as well.  Looking back at past fashions from Regency to the 1950's has always fascinated me.  But, looking at fashion is fun and easy, and we all know that however good our gowns are recreated, it's the accessories that add the finishing touches to the vintage look we all strive for.   

With that thought in mind, while "Gold" has always been the standard of value, and still is today with Gold at an all time high in cost, did you know that Aluminum was once valued higher than Gold?  Yes!  Aluminum, the stuff we wrap our leftovers in!  However, when it was first discovered in 1854 in Europe, they did not have the tools necessary to mine it cost effectively.  It was the shiny NEW metal that everyone loved!  It is reported that at that time Napoleon III proudly displayed his aluminum cutlery at his special state banquets, saving his gold cutlery for more casual events!  He also commissioned aluminum parts and equipment for his troops, and even had an Aluminum and Gold baby rattle made for his son!

For a gentleman to give his wife or sweetheart a gift of Aluminum, from 1854 to 1885, was to give her a gift as valuable as Gold!  So, look at your older Aluminum Thimbles, Sash Pins, Coin Purses, and Sewing Boxes and see them in the context of the time in which they were given!  What a Gift that must have been to receive, and now YOU are the proud owner of this most valuable item!

Also, did you know that on top of the US Washington Monument there is almost a 3kg pyramid of Aluminum as a shining symbol of how strong and wealthy the US was?  It's True!  So, when dealing with vintage textiles, we need to remember to compare "apples to apples".  Something as common today as Aluminum was not always the case in the Victorian Era.  It was not until 1886, when two young scientists figured out how to product Aluminum economically, that Aluminum became affordable to the general populace.

The Aluminum Sewing Box has a date stamp from around 1885.  The thimble is also vintage, but no identifying date marks.  The sash pin is vintage with a c-clasp closure.  The vintage coin purse is an Aluminum composite.  For more research information on Aluminum please click on the following link:

and search for:

Commercialization of Aluminum

It should be the third one down on the results page.  The link was just to big to drop in here for some reason!  Enjoy!


  1. Nicely written Trudy! Very interesting, thanks. I always assumed Aluminum was expensive back in the day, just because of what I know of it, not easy to work, but that it was worth more than gold is fascinating.