History of Gold

Gold has a very special place in human history. It has been treasured since ancient times and was the first metal used by humans, with simple gold ornaments among the earliest known metal objects. In early times, alchemists would spend their entire lives trying to turn other metals into precious gold! Gold has changed where and how people live. Many towns have been developed by the wealth from mining gold. There are also many 'ghost towns' - when the gold supply ran out, people simply deserted the area.

Gold has also featured in many myths and legends. King Midas, King Soloman, and Jason and the Argonauts were all legendary gold seekers! Even fairytales often mention golden objects such as eggs or harps, and most people have heard of the golden pot at the end of the rainbow. Even today, achievements are rewarded by gold medals, and we associate the word gold with greatness - as in 'golden rules' or 'good as gold'.

Gold has always been, and still is, a very important metal. Its rarity and unique properties make it one of the most prized and useful metals.

 

History

Placers supplied most of the gold for a large part of the ancient world. Hydraulic mining methods such as husing were used widely by the Romans across their empire, but especially in the gold fields of northern Spain after its conquest by Augustus in 25 BC. One of the largest sites was at Las Medulas, where seven 30 mile long aquaducts were used to work the alluvial gold deposits through the first century AD. (Inclusions of platinum-group metals in a very large proportion of gold items indicate that the gold was largely derived from placer or alluvial deposits. Platinum Group metals are seldom found with gold in hardrock reef or vein deposits.) In North America, placer mining was famous in the context of several gold rushes, particularly the California Gold Rush, the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush and the Klondike Gold Rush.,   Placer mining continues in many areas of the world as a source of diamonds, industrial minerals and metals, gems (in Myanmar and Sri Lanka), platinum, and of gold (in the Yukon, Alaska and Beautiful British Columbia.

HISTORY OF GOLD

The National Mining Association 101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Suite 500 East  Washington, DC 2001

Gold

  • The chemical symbol for gold is Au.

  • Gold’s atomic number is 79 and its atomic weight is 196.967.

  • Gold melts at 1064.43° Centigrade

  • The specific gravity of gold is 19.3, meaning gold weighs 19.3 times more than an equal volume of water.

WEIGHT EQUIVALENTS

1 troy ounce = 1,097 ordinary ounces

1 troy ounce = 480 grains

1 troy ounce = 31.1 grams

1000 troy ounces = 31.3 kilograms

1 gram = .03215 troy ounces

1 kilogram = 32.15 troy ounces

1 tonne = 32.150 troy ounces

1 ordinary ounce = .9115 troy ounces

1 ordinary pound = 14.58 troy ounces

Percent Gold = European System = Karat System

100 % = 1000 fine = 24 karat

91.7 % = 917 fine = 22 karat

75.0 % = 750 fine = 18 karat

58.5 % = 585 fine = 14 karat

41.6 % = 416 fine = 10 karat

4000 B.C.

A culture, centered in what is today Eastern Europe,begins to use gold to fashion decorative objects. The gold was probably mined in the Transylvanian Alps or the Mount Pangaion area in Thrace.

3000 B.C.

The Sumer civilization of southern Iraq uses gold tocreate a wide range of jewelry, often usingsophisticated and varied styles still worn today.

2500 B.C.

Gold jewelry is buried in the Tomb of Djer, king of theFirst Egyptian Dynasty, at Abydos, Egypt.

1500 B.C.

The immense gold-bearing regions of Nubia makeEgypt a wealthy nation, as gold becomes therecognized standard medium of exchange forinternational trade. The Shekel, a coin originally weighing 11.3 grams of gold, becomes a standard unit of measure in the Middle East. It contained a naturally occurring alloy called electrum that was approximately two-thirds gold and one-third silver.

1350 B.C.

The Babylonians begin to use fire assay to test thepurity of gold.

1200 B.C.

The Egyptians master the art of beating gold into leafto extend its use, as well as alloying it with othermetals for hardness and color variations. They alsostart casting gold using the lost-wax technique that today is still at the heart of jewelry making.  Unshorn sheepskin is used to recover gold dust from river sands on the eastern shores of the Black Sea. After slucing the sands through the sheepskins, they are dried and shaken out to dislodge the gold particles.The practice is most likely the inspiration for the“Golden Fleece”.

1091 B.C.

Little squares of gold are legalized in China as a form of money.

560 B.C.

The first coins made purely from gold are minted inLydia, a kingdom of Asia Minor.

344 B.C.

Alexander the Great crosses the Hellespont with40,000 men, beginning one of the most extraordinarycampaigns in military history and seizing vastquantities of gold from the Persian Empire.

300 B.C.

Greeks and Jews of ancient Alexandria begin topractice alchemy, the quest of turning base metalsinto gold. The search reaches its pinnacle from thelate Dark Ages through the Renaissance.

218 B.C. – 202 B.C.

During the second Punic War with Carthage, theRomans gain access to the gold mining region ofSpain and recover gold through stream gravels andhardrock mining.

58 B.C.

After a victorious campaign in Gaul, Julius Caesar brings back enough gold to give 200 coins to each of his soldiers and repay all of Rome’s debts.

50 B.C.

Romans begin issuing a gold coin called the Aureus.

476 A.D.

The Goths depose Emperor Romulas Augustus,marking the fall of the Roman Empire.

600 A.D. – 699 A.D.

The Byzantine Empire resumes gold mining in centralEurope and France, an area untouched since the fall of the Roman Empire.

742 A.D. – 814 A.D.

Charlemagne overruns the Avars and plunders theirvast quantities of gold, making it possible for him totake control over much of western Europe.

1066 A.D.

With the Norman conquest, a metallic currencystandard is finally re-established in Great Britain withthe introduction of a system of pounds, shillings, andpence. The pound is literally a pound of sterling silver.

1250 A.D. – 1299 A.D.

Marco Polo writes of his travels to the Far East, where the “gold wealth was almost unlimited.”

1284 A.D.

Venice introduces the gold Ducat, which soonbecomes the most popular coin in the world andremains so for more than five centuries.

1284 A.D.

Great Britain issues its first major gold coin, theFlorin. This is followed shortly by the Noble, and later by the Angel, Crown, and Guinea.

1377 A.D.

Great Britain shifts to a monetary system based on gold and silver.

1511 A.D.

King Ferdinand of Spain says to explorers, “Get gold,humanely if you can, but all hazards, get gold,”launching massive expeditions to the newlydiscovered lands of the Western Hemisphere

1556 A.D.

Georgius Agricola publishes De re Metallica, whichdescribes the fire assay of gold during the MiddleAges.

1700 A.D.

Gold is discovered in Brazil, which becomes thelargest producer of gold by 1720, with nearly twothirds of the world’s output.  Isaac Newton, as Master of the Mint, fixes the price of gold in Great Britain at 84 shillings, 11 & ½ pence per troy ounce. The Royal Commission, composed of Newton, John Locke, and Lord Somers, recommends a recall of all old currency, issuance of new specie with gold/silver ratio of 16-to-1. The gold price thus stablished in Great Britain lasted for over 200 years.

1744 A.D.

The resurgence of gold mining in Russia begins withthe discovery of a quartz outcrop in Ekaterinburg.

1787 A.D.

First U.S. gold coin is struck by Ephraim Brasher, agoldsmith.

1792 A.D.

The Coinage Act places the United States on abimetallic silver-gold standard, and defines the U.S.dollar as equivalent to 24.75 grains of fine gold and371.25 grains of fine silver.

1799 A.D.

A 17-pound gold nugget is found in Cabarrus County,North Carolina, the first documented gold discovery in the United States.

1803 A.D.

Gold is discovered at Little Meadow Creek, NorthCarolina, sparking the first U.S. gold rush.

1804 A.D. – 1828 A.D.

North Carolina supplies all the domestic gold coinedby the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia for currency.

1816 A.D.

Great Britain officially ties the pound to a specificquantity of gold at which British currency isconvertible.

1817 A.D.

Britain introduces the Sovereign, a small gold coinvalued at one pound sterling

1830 A.D.

Heinrich G. Kuhn announces his discovery of theformula for fired-on Glanz (bright) Gold. It makesMeissen gold-decorated china world famous.

1837 A.D.

The weight of gold in the U.S. dollar is lessened to23.22 grains so that one fine troy ounce of gold isvalued at $20.67.

1848 A.D.

John Marshall finds flakes of gold while building asawmill for John Sutter near Sacramento, California,triggering the California Gold Rush and hastening the settlement of the American West.

1850 A.D.

Edward Hammong Hargraves, returning to Australiafrom California, predicts he will find gold in his home country in one week. He discovered gold in New South Wales within one week of landing.

1859 A.D.

Comstock lode of gold and silver is struck in Nevada.

1862 A.D.

Latin Monetary Union is established setting fineness,weight, size, and denomination of silver and goldcoins of France, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland (andGreece in 1868) and obligating all to accept each other’s current gold and silver coins as full legaltender.

1868 A.D.

George Harrison, while digging up stones to build ahouse, discovers gold in South Africa – since then,the source of nearly 40% of all gold ever mined.

1873 A.D.

As a result of ongoing revisions to minting andcoinage laws, silver is  eiminated as a standard ofvalue, and the United States goes on an unofficialgold standard.

1887 A.D.

A British patent is issued to John Steward MacArthur for the cyanidation process for recovering gold from ore. The process results in a doubling of world gold output over the next twenty years.

1896 A.D.

William Jennings Bryan delivers his famous “Cross ofGold” speech at the Democratic national convention,urging a return to bimetallism. The speech gains himthe party’s presidential nomination, but he loses in the general election to William McKinley.

1898 A.D.

Two prospectors discover gold while fishing inKlondike, Alaska, spawning the la st gold rush of thecentury.

1900 A.D.

The Gold Standard Act places the United Statesofficially on the gold standard, committing the UnitedStates to maintain a fixed exchange rate in relation toother countries on the gold standard.

1903 A.D.

The Engelhard Corporation introduces an organicmedium to print gold on surfaces. First used fordecoration, the medium becomes the foundation formicrocircuit printing technology.

1913 A.D.

Federal Reserve Act specifies that Federal ReserveNotes be backed 40% in gold.

1914 A.D. – 1919 A.D.

A strict gold standard is suspended by severalcountries, including United States and Great Britain ,during World War I.

1925 A.D.

Great Britain returns to a gold bullion standard, withcurrency redeemable for 400-ounce gold bullion barsbut no circulation of gold coins.

1927 A.D.

An extensive medical study conducted in Franceproves gold to be valuable in the treatment ofrheumatoid arthritis.

1931 A.D.

Great Britain abandons the gold bullion standard.

1933 A.D.

To alleviate the banking panic, President Franklin D.Roosevelt prohibits private holdings of all gold coins,bullion, and certificates.

 1934 A.D.

The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 gives the governmentthe permanent title to all monetary gold and halts theminting of gold coins. It also allows gold certificatesto be held only by the Federal Reserve Banks, puttingthe U.S. on a limited gold bullion standard, underwhich redemption in gold is restricted to dollars heldby foreign central banks and licensed private users.President Roosevelt reduces the dollar by increasing the price of gold to $35 per ounce. 

1935 A.D.

Western Electric Alloy #1 (69% gold, 25% silver, and 6% platinum) finds universal use in all switchingcontacts for AT&T telecommunications equipment.

 1937 A.D. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues a presidential edict closing all U.S. gold mines.

The bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, is opened. 

1933 A.D.

To alleviate the banking panic, President Franklin D.Roosevelt prohibits private holdings of all gold coins,bullion, and certificates.

1934 A.D.

The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 gives the governmentthe permanent title to all monetary gold and halts theminting of gold coins. It also allows gold certificatesto be held only by the Federal Reserve Banks, puttingthe U.S. on a limited gold bullion standard, underwhich redemption in gold is restricted to dollars heldby foreign central banks and licensed private users.President Roosevelt reduces the dollar by increasing the price of gold to $35 per ounce.

1935 A.D.

Western Electric Alloy #1 (69% gold, 25% silver, and 6% platinum) finds universal use in all switchingcontacts for AT&T telecommunications equipment.

1937 A.D.

The bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, isopened.

1942 A.D.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues a presidentialedict closing all U.S. gold mines.

1944 A.D.

The Bretton Woods agreement, ratified by the U.S.

1945 A.D.

Gold-backing of Federal Reserve Notes is reduced by 25.5%

1947 A.D.

The first transistor is assembled at AT&T BellLaboratories. The device uses gold contacts pressedinto a germanium surface.

1954 A.D.

London gold market, closed early in World War II,reopens. 1960 A.D. AT&T Bell Laboratories is granted the first patent for the invention of the laser. The device uses carefully positioned gold-coated mirrors to maximize infrared reflection into the lasing crystal. The European Rheumatism Council confirmsintravenously administered gold is an effectivetreatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

1961 A.D.

Americans are forbidden to own gold abroad as well as at home.  The central banks of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, West Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States form the London Gold Pool and agree to buy and sell at $35.0875 per ounce.

1965 A.D.

Col. Edward White makes the first space walk duringthe Gemini IV ission, using a gold-coated visor toprotect his eyes from direct sunlight. Gold-coatedvisors remain a standard safety feature for astronautexcursions.

1967 A.D.

South Africa produces the first Krugerrand. This 1-ounce bullion coin becomes a favorite of individualinvestors around the world.

1968 A.D.

London Gold Market closes for two weeks after asudden surge in the demand for gold. The governors of the central banks in the gold pool announce they will no longer buy and sell gold in the private market. A two-tier pricing system emerges: official transactions between monetary authorities are to be conducted at an unchanged price of $35 per fine troy ounce, and other transactions are to be conducted at a fluctuating free-market price selling gold to those licensed by the U.S. Treasury to hold gold.  Gold-backing of Federal Reserve Notes is eliminated. Intel introduces a microchip with 1,024 transistorsinterconnected with invisibly small gold circuits.

1970 A.D.

The charge-coupled device is invented at BellTelephone Laboratories. First used to record the faint light from stars, the device, which uses gold to collect the electrons generated by light,eventually is used in hundreds of civilian and military devices, including home video cameras.

1971 A.D.

On August 15, U.S. terminates all gold sales orpurchases, thereby ending conversion of foreignofficially held dollars into gold; in December, underthe Smithsonian Agreement signed in Washington,U.S. devalues the dollar by raisin g the official dollarprice of gold to $38 per fine troy ounce.  The colloidal gold marker system is introduced by Amersham Corporation of Illinois. Tin y spheres of gold are used in health research laboratories worldwide to mark or tag specific proteins to reveal their function in the human body for the treatment of disease.

1973 A.D.

On February 13, U.S. devalues the dollar again andannounces it will raise the official dollar price of goldto $42.22 per fine troy ounce. Dollar-sellingcontinues, and finally all currencies are allowed to“float” freely, without regard to the price of gold. ByJune, the market price in London has risen to morethan $120 per ounce.  Japan lifts prohibition on imports of gold.

1974 A.D.

Americans permitted to own gold, other than justjewelry, as of December 31.

1975 A.D.

The U.S. Treasury holds a series of auctions at whichis accepts bids for gold in the form of 400-ounce bars.  In January, 754,000 troy ounces are sold and another 499,500 more in June.

1975 A.D.

Trading in gold for future delivery begins on NewYork’s Commodity Exchange and on Chicago’sInternational Monetary Market and Board of Trade.The Krugerrand is launched on to the U.S. Market.

1976 A.D.

The Gold Institute is established to promote thecommon business interests of the gold industry byproviding statistical data and other relevantinformation to its members, the media, and thepublic, while also acting as an industry spokesperson.

1976 A.D. – 1980 A.D.

IMF sells one-third of its gold holdings, 25 million troy ounces to IMF members at SDR 35/ounce inproportion to members’ shares of quotas on August31, 1975, and 25 million troy ounces at a series ofpublic auctions for the benefit of developing membercountries.

1978 A.D.- 1980 A.D.

U.S. Treasury sells 15.8 million troy ounces of gold

1978 A.D.

Amended IMF articles are adopted, abolishing theofficial IMF price of gold, gold convertibility andmaintenance of gold value obligations; gold iseliminated as a significant instrument in IMF transactions with members; and the IMF isempowered to dispose of its large gold holdings. ByAct of Congress, the U.S. abolishes the official priceof gold. Member governments are free to buy and sell gold in private markets.

1978 A.D.

A weak U.S. dollar propels interest in gold, aided bysuch events as the U.S. recognition of Communist China, events in Iran and Sino-Vietnamese border disturbances.  U.S. Congress passes the American Arts Gold Medallion Act, representing the first official issue of a gold piece for sale to individuals in almost half a century.  Japan lifts ban on gold exports, touching off a “gold rush” among investors who can sell as well as buy.

1979 A.D.

The Canadian 1-ounce Maple Leaf is introduced.

1980 A.D.

Gold reaches intra-day historic high of $870 onJanuary 21 in New York and by year-end closes at$591.

1981 A.D.

Treasury Secretary Donald Regan announces theformation of a Gold Commission “to assess and make recommendations with regard to the policy of the U.S. government concerning the role of gold in domestic and international monetary systems.”  The first space shuttle is launched, using gold-coatedimpellers in its liquid hydrogen fuel pump.

1982 A.D.

Congress passes Olympic Commemorative Coin Act, which includes issuing the first legal tender U.S. gold coin since 1933.

1982 A.D.

U.S. Gold Commission report recommends no newmonetary role for gold, but supports a U.S. goldbullion coin.  New gold deposits are discovered in North America and Australia.  Canada introduces the fractional Maple Leaf coins in sizes of 1/4 ounce and 1/10 ounce.  China introduces the Panda bullion coin.

1986 A.D.

The first new gold jewelry alloy this century, 990-Gold (1% titanium) is introduced to meet the need for an improved durability of 99% pure gold traditionally manufactured in Hong Kong. The very malleable alloy is easily worked into intricate design, but can be converted into a hard, durable alloy by simply heating it in an oven.  The American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin is introduced by the U.S. Mint. Treasury resumespurchases of newly mined gold   Goldcorp Australia issues the Nugget gold bullion coin.  Gold-coated compact discs are introduced. The goldcoated discs provide perfection of reflective surfaces, eliminate pinholes common to aluminum surfaces, and exclude any possibility of oxidative deterioration of the surfaces.

1987 A.D.

British Royal Mint introduces the Britannia GoldBullion Coin.   World stock markets suffer sharp reversal on October 19; volatile investment markets increase gold trading activity.  The World Gold Council is established to sustain and develop demand for the end uses of gold.

1988 A.D.

The international media report huge gold purchases by a “mystery” buyer, later reveled to be the Japanese government in preparation for the minting of a major commemorative coin. This coin, honoring the sixtieth anniversary of Emperor Hirohito’s reign, is issued in November.

1989 A.D.

Austria introduces the Philharmoniker bullion coin.

1990 A.D.

United States becomes the world’s second largest gold producing nation.

1992 A.D.

World Gold Council introduces the Gold Mark as aninternational  dentification  mark for gold jewelry.

1993 A.D.

Germany lifts its value added tax restrictions onfinancial gold, causing a resurgence of private demand of gold.  India and Turkey liberalize their gold markets.

1994 A.D.

Russia formally establishes a domestic gold market.

1996 A.D.

The Mars Global Surveyor is launched with an on board gold-coated parabolic telescope-mirror that will generate a detailed map of the entire Martian surface over a two-year period.

1997 A.D.

Congress passes Taxpayers Relief Act, allowing USIndividual Retirement Account holders to buy goldbullion coins and bars for their accounts as long asthey are of a fineness equal to, or exceeding, 99.5%percent gold.

1999 A.D.

The Euro, a pan-European currency, is introduced,backed by a new European Central Bank holding 15% of its reserves in gold.

2000 A.D.

Astronomers at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii usethe giant gold-coated mirrors of the most detailedimages of Neptune and Uranus ever captured.

2002 A.D.

The Gold Institute’s Board of Directors votes todissolve the association and consolidate its activitieswithin the National Mining Association, effectiveJanuary 1, 2003. The decision was made against thebackdrop of consolidation in the gold sector andchanges in the general business climate

Congress in 1945, establishes a gold exchange standard and two new international organizations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The new standard involves setting par values for currencies in terms of gold and the obligation of member countries to convert foreign official holdings of their currencies into gold at these par values.

2011 A.D.

Gold prices $1320.10 troy ounce 14/04/15


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