Kodachrome End of an Era And the Market For Silver?

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Kodak made major headlines yesterday with the announcement that the last of its Kodachrome color film supply will likely run out by this fall. According to an entry in NY Times Lens blog the Kodachrome name ¦became synonymous with richly saturated color reds, especially and postcard-perfect settings. The film has been in use since 1935.  The Lens link above has a fabulous mini-display of Kodachrome work over the years.

Kodak retired the product as a sign of the times, deriving just a fraction of one percent of their total still frame revenues, according to this press release from their website.  And that made us want to take a look at how the changing photography market has affected the role of silver. Undoubtedly, not all photographers have gone digital and even those that have, many still rely on film. Yet as a percentage of the overall silver market, photography has declined considerably. Back in 1999, photography represented 26% of total silver demand whereas by 2008, it only represented 11%, according to The Silver Institute.

How does this bode for silver in general? Certainly historically, photography has represented a key market (and still does). Industrial demand, decorative, silverware and jewelry make up the remaining demand and have seen declines for much of this year. But the longer term prospects for silver still remain bright as many new emerging technologies rely on silver including photovoltaic cells, medical applications such as bandages for burns, energy efficient windows and eyeglasses among many others.

As they say, when one chapter closes, another one begins¦

–Lisa Reisman

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