The history of gold
Gold thoughout the ages
Since the dawn of time, man has been fascinated by gold. Due to its extreme rarity, all the gold ever mined would only form a 21 metre cube, which would fit into Centre Court at Wimbledon. These global gold investment reserves weigh a massive 180,000 tonnes.
Gold bullion is most recognised as a store of value, but it has many other uses too. Gold is inert, dense, soft, malleable and ductile. Gold does not rust or age, and is an excellent conductor of electricity.
The Egyptians were the first to smelt and work gold. They used gold for ornaments, statues and money with King Tutankhamen making his famous coffin out of 100kgs of gold.
The Chinese made gold into square coins called Ying Yuan in 564 BC during the nearly 800 year Zhou Dynasty.
The Ancient Greeks fought the Persians for 50 years for land, power and the legendary Persian gold hoards, with the victorious Alexander’s army returning home laden with gold investments and treasures.
At the height of the Roman Empire, its superior money system circulated Roman gold bullion coins like the Aureus between Britain, North Africa and Egypt, providing one of Rome’s many advancements to civilisation.
Spanish Kings and conquistadors sailed to South America on tales of Inca and Aztec gold. King Ferdinand advised: get gold, humanely if you can, but all hazards, get gold. Spanish galleons returned home laden with gold destined for Seville, proving an attractive target for Britain’s Sir Francis Drake.
In the 19th century, the world operated on the Gold Standard between the mid-1800s until 1914. This period of peace, prosperity and rising employment owed a great deal to its strong, stable gold money system.
Since the turn of the millennium financial crises and money printing have helped fuel gold’s popularity again, with 12 years of continually rising gold prices rewarding those who invest in gold.
Famous gold rushes
People have flocked to new gold finds in the hope of unimaginable riches. The most famous modern examples include: North Carolina in 1799, California in 1848 and the Klondike in 1896, when 100,000 people flocked to Yukon, British Columbia in search of gold.
Gold in the modern era
Gold is as relevant today as it ever has been with increasing uses in electronics, jewellery and even space exploration. Did you know that each Space Shuttle contains 40kgs of gold, worth over $2m at today’s prices?
Gold remains a finite and precious resource, making it a strategic and sought after asset. Central bankers, investor and savers around the world continue to invest in gold in these uncertain times.