It is fascinating to ponder history and discover how values change over time. Gold was, is, and likely ever-shall-be a valuable monetary standard while other, less precious, metals like aluminum began life as an exquisite expense only to end up at the bottom of the recycling bin as empty beer cans:
Applications of aluminum were limited to jewelry and other such luxury items: bars of aluminum were exhibited alongside the French crown jewels, and Emperor Napoleon III was said to have reserved aluminum dining sets for his most honored guests. In 1884, aluminum was used to cap the Washington Monument – at the time, the 100-ounce capstone was the single largest piece of cast aluminum ever created. It was not until the year 1886, when the first high-volume, low-cost smelting process for aluminum was discovered, that the age of aluminum was born.