A K Agnihotri All that glitters is gold ( part ii)

4000 B.C. A culture, centred 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 to create a wide range of jewellery, often using sophisticated and varied styles still worn today.

2500 B.C Gold jewellery is buried in the Tomb of Djer, King of the First Egyptian Dynasty, at Abydos, Egypt.

1500 B.C.The immense gold-bearing regions of Nubia make Egypt a wealthy nation, as gold becomes the recognized standard medium of exchange for international 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 the purity of gold.

1200 B.C. The Egyptians master the art of beating gold into leaf to extend its use, as well as alloying it with other metals for hardness and colour variations.  They also start casting gold using the lost-wax technique that even today is still at the heart of jewellery making.

Unshorn sheepskin is used to recover gold dust from river sands on the eastern shores of the Black Sea. After sluicing 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”, which became one of the folk lore of “JASON AND THE ARGANAUTS.”

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 in Lydia, a kingdom of Asia Minor.

344 B.C. Alexander the Great crosses the Hellespont with 40,000 men, beginning one of the most extraordinary campaigns in military history and seizing vast quantities of gold from the Persian Empire.

300 B.C. Greeks and Jews of ancient Alexandria begin to practice alchemy, the quest of turning base metals into gold.  The search reaches its pinnacle from the late Dark Ages through the Renaissance.

218 B.C.- 202 B.C. During the second Punic War with Carthage, the Romans gain access to the gold mining region of Spain and recover gold through stream gravels and hard rock 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 central Europe and France, an area untouched since the fall of the Roman Empire.

742 A.D. – 814 A.D.  Charlemagne overruns the Avars and plunders their vast quantities of gold, making it possible for him to take control over much of Western Europe.

1066 A.D.  With the Norman Conquest, a metallic currency standard is finally re-established in Great Britain with the introduction of a system of pounds, shillings, and pence.  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 soon becomes the most popular coin in the world and remains so for more than five centuries.

1284 A.D. Great Britain issues its first major gold coin, the Florin.  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 newly discovered lands of the Western Hemisphere.

1556 A.D.  Georgius Agricola publishes De re Metallica, which describes the fire assay of gold during the Middle Ages.

1700 A.D. Gold is discovered in Brazil, which becomes the largest producer of gold by 1720, with nearly two- thirds 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 established in Great Britain lasted for over 200 years.

1744 A.D. The resurgence of gold mining in Russia begins with the discovery of a quartz outcrop in Yekaterinburg.

1787 A.D. First US gold coin is struck by Ephraim Brasher, a goldsmith.

1792 A.D. The Coinage Act places the United States on a bimetallic silver-gold standard, and defines the U.S. dollar as equivalent to 24.75 grains of fine gold and 371.25 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, North Carolina, sparking the first U.S. gold rush.

1804 A.D. – 1828 A.D. North Carolina supplies all the domestic gold coined by the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia for currency.

1816 A.D. Great Britain officially ties the pound to a specific quantity of gold at which British currency is convertible.

1817 A.D. Britain introduces the Sovereign, a small gold coin valued at one pound sterling

1830 A.D.  Heinrich G. Kuhn announces his discovery of the formula for fired-on Glanz (bright) Gold.  It makes Meissen gold-decorated china world famous.

1837 A.D.The weight of gold in the U.S. dollar is lessened to 23.22 grains so that one fine troy ounce of gold is valued at $20.67.

1848 A.D. John Marshall finds flakes of gold while building a sawmill 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 Australia from 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 gold coins of France, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland (and Greece in 1868) and obligating all to accept each other’s current gold and silver coins as full legal tender.

1868 A.D. George Harrison, while digging up stones to build a house, 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 and coinage laws, silver is eliminated as a standard of value, and the United States goes on an unofficial gold 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 of Gold” speech at the Democratic national convention, urging a return to bimetallism.  The speech gains him the party’s presidential nomination, but he loses in the general election to William McKinley.

1898 A.D. Two prospectors discover gold while fishing in Klondike, Alaska, spawning the last gold rush of the century.

1900 A.D. The Gold Standard Act places the United States officially on the gold standard, committing the United States to maintain a fixed exchange rate in relation to other countries on the gold standard.

1903 A.D. The Engelhard Corporation introduces an organic medium to print gold on surfaces.  First used for decoration, the medium becomes the foundation for microcircuit printing technology.

1913 A.D. Federal Reserve Act specifies that Federal Reserve Notes be backed 40% in gold.

1914 A.D. –1919 A.D. A vstrict gold standard is suspended by several countries, including United States and Great Britain, during World War I.

1925 A.D. Great Britain returns to a gold bullion standard, with currency redeemable for 400-ounce gold bullion bars but no circulation of gold coins.

1927 A.D. An extensive medical study conducted in France proves gold to be valuable in the treatment of rheumatoid 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 government the permanent title to all monetary gold and halts the minting of gold coins.  It also allows gold certificates to be held only by the Federal Reserve Banks, putting the U.S. on a limited gold bullion standard, under which redemption in gold is restricted to dollars held by 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 switching contacts for AT&T telecommunications equipment.

1937 A.D.  The bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, is opened.

1942 A.D. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues a presidential edict closing all U.S. gold mines.

1944 A.D. The Bretton Woods agreement, ratified by the U.S. 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.

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 Bell Laboratories.  The device uses gold contacts pressed into a germanium surface.

1954 A.D. London gold market, closed early in WW 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 confirms intravenously administered gold is an effective treatment 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 during the Gemini IV mission, using a gold-coated visor to protect his eyes from direct sunlight.  Gold-coated visors remain a standard safety feature for astronaut excursions.

1967 A.D. South Africa produces the first Krugerrand.  This 1- ounce bullion coin becomes a favourite of individual investors around the world.

1968 A.D. London Gold Market closes for two weeks after a sudden 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.

            To be continued