Gold History

Gold was used by prehistoric civilizations as a tool. Highly sophisticated gold art objects and jewelry discovered by archaeologists in the Royal Tombs of Ur, in which is now Southern Iraq, date back to around 3000 BC. Similarly, goldsmiths of the Chavin civilization in Peru were making ornaments by hammering and embossing gold by 1200 BC.

Important Dates in the History of Gold

4000 BC
Gold first known to be used in parts of central and Eastern Europe.
3000 BC
Egyptians master the art of beating gold into gold left and alloying it with other metals.
1500 BC
The Shekel (two-thirds gold) used as a standard unit of measure through the Middle East.
1091 BC
Squares of gold are legalized in China as a form of money.
58 BC
Julius Caesar seizes enough gold in Gaul (France) to repay Rome's debts.
1100 AD
Venice secures its position as the world’s leading gold bullion market due to its location astride the trade routes to the east.
1511
King Ferdinand of Spain sends explorers to the Western Hemisphere with the command to "get gold."
1717
Isaac Newton, Master of the London Mint, sets price of gold that lasts for 200 years.
1787
First US gold coin is struck by Ephraim Brasher, a goldsmith.
1803
North Carolina site of first US gold rush. The state supplies all the domestic gold coined for currency by the US Mint in Philadelphia until 1828.
1848
California gold rush begins when James Marshall finds specks of gold in tailrace of John Sutter's sawmill near the junction of the American and Sacramento Rivers.
1850
Edward Hammong Hargraves, returning from California, predicts he will find gold in Australian within one week. He discovers gold in New South Wales within one week of landing.
1886
George Harrison, while digging stones to build a house, discovers gold in South Africa.
1887
Glasgow doctors, Robert and Wiliam Forrest, and chemist John S. MacArthur, patent the process for extracting gold from ore using cyanide.
1896
Two prospectors discover gold while fishing in the Klondike River in northern Canada. Richer finds were rumored farther south in Alaska's Yukon, spawning the Alaska Gold Rush in 1898 - the last gold rush of the century.
1900
US adopts the gold standard for its currency.
1903
The Engelhard Corporation introduces an organic medium to print gold on surfaces. First used in decoration, the medium becomes the foundation of microcircuit printing technology.
1922
King Tutankhamen.s tomb (1352 BC) opened to reveal a 2,448 lb. Gold coffin and hundreds of gold and gold-leafed objects.
1927
Medical study in France proves gold to be valuable in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
1933
Present Franklin D. Roosevelt bands the export of gold, halts the convertibility of dollar bills into gold, orders US citizens to hand in all the gold they possess and establishes a daily price for gold.
1934
Roosevelt fixes price of gold at $35 per ounce.
1935
Western Electric Alloy #1 (69% gold, 25% silver and 6% platinum) finds universal use in all switching contacts for ATT telecommunications equipment.
1947
The first transistor, the building block for electronics, is assembled at AT&T; Bell Laboratories. The device uses gold contacts pressed into a germanium surface.
1960
Laser invented using gold-coated mirrors to maximize infrared reflection.
1961
Modern-day mining begins in Nevada's Carlin Trend, ultimately making Nevada the nation's largest gold-mining state.
1968
Intel introduces a microchip with 1,024 transistors connected by gold circuits. On March 15, central banks give up fixed price of gold at $35 per troy ounce and let it free float.
1969
Gold coated visors protect astronauts' eyes from searing sunlight on the moon (Apollo 11 moon landing).
1970
Charged coupled device invented, using gold to collect electrons generated by light, eventually used in hundreds of military and civilian devices, including video cameras.
1971
The colloidal gold marker system is introduced by Amersham Corporation of Illinois Tiny 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.
1974
On December 31, US government ends its ban on individual ownership of gold.
1980
Gold reaches intra-day historic high price of $870 on January 21 in New York.
1986
Gold-coated compact discs are introduced.
1987
Airbags are introduced for cars, using gold contacts for reliability.
1996
Mars Global Surveyor launched with an on-board gold-coated parabolic telescope-mirror that will generated a detailed map of the entire Martian surface over a two-year period.
1997
Congress passes Taxpayers Relief Act, allowing US Individual Retirement Account holders to buy gold bullion coins and bars for their accounts as long as they are of a fineness equal to, or exceeding, 99.5 percent gold.

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