The cause for a rise in silver prices from $6 per oz. in early 1979 to $50 per oz. in January 1980 was largely attributed to the actions of the Hunt brothers, W. Herbert Hunt and Nelson Bunker Hunt. The Hunt brothers began buying silver in the early 1970's as a hedge against inflation. In 1979 however, they began to purchase the metal in much larger quantities in an attempt to corner the market, and by 1980 the Hunt brothers controlled about 200 million oz. of silver, worth billions of dollars. This accounted for over half of the world's privately owned supply at that time. In late January, officials at COMEX raised margin requirments and placed and limits on the amount of silver futures contracts they could hold in order to check this cornering in the markets, and the Hunt brothers were forced to sell, causing prices to plummet.