Silver has been used for thousands of years as ornaments and utensils, for trade and as the basis of many monetary systems. The metal has played an important part in world history. Silver from the mines at Laurion, Greece, for example, financed the Greek victory over the Persians in 480 B.C. Silver from Potosi, Bolivia, helped Spain become a world power in the 16th and 17th centuries. And silver from the gold-silver ores at the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nev., helped keep the Union solvent during the Civil War.