1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Argentite

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5685321911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 2 — ArgentiteLeonard James Spencer

ARGENTITE, a mineral which belongs to the galena group, and is cubic silver sulphide (Ag2S). It is occasionally found as uneven cubes and octahedra, but more often as dendritic or earthy masses, with a blackish lead-grey colour and metallic lustre. The cubic cleavage, which is so prominent a feature in galena, is here present only in traces. The mineral is perfectly sectile and has a shining streak; hardness 2·5, specific gravity 7·3. It occurs in mineral veins, and when found in large masses, as in Mexico and in the Comstock lode in Nevada, it forms an important ore of silver. The mineral was mentioned so long ago as 1529 by G. Agricola, but the name argentite (from the Lat. argentum, “silver”) was not used till 1845 and is due to W. von Haidinger. Old names for the species are Glaserz, silver-glance and vitreous silver. A cupriferous variety, from Jalpa in Tabasco, Mexico, is known as jalpaite. Acanthite is a supposed dimorphous form, crystallizing in the orthorhombic system, but it is probable that the crystals are really distorted crystals of argentite.  (L. J. S.)