Gold has long been prized for its beauty and rarity, and has played a significant role in human culture and commerce for thousands of years. From its use as a medium of exchange in ancient civilizations to its modern applications in jewelry, electronics, and more, gold has a fascinating story to tell. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 50 facts about gold that will give you a deeper understanding of this remarkable metal. From its physical properties and sources, to its cultural and economic importance, these facts will shed light on the many aspects of gold that make it so valuable and enduring.
26One Ton Gold Coin
In 2011, Australia minted the biggest coin in the world, which is made of one ton of pure gold. Although its face value was A$1 million (£650,000) when it was minted, its actual value was much more. It would have been worth more than A$54 million if melted down and refined into gold bars at the time.
27. As part of an effort to provide winter quarters for an allied Ottoman navy, the entire population of Toulon, France, was evacuated for a short time in 1543. During their 8-month stay, 30,000 warriors forced the city's cathedral to be repurposed as a mosque and demanded 800,000 gold coins from the monarch before they left.
28. The U.S. Mint has 147 million troy ounces of gold stored in Fort Knox, 54 million at West Point, and 44 million in Denver as of February 2021. Members of Congress and a small group of journalists were granted access to the Fort Knox gold vault for the final time on September 23, 1974. Only 5% of the samples were analyzed during the last audit, which took place in 1953.
29. There is more gold (6,190 tons) in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's vault than there is in the US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox (5,052 tons). Nonetheless, around 98% of this gold is owned by the central banks of foreign nations.
30. Following the September 11th attacks, more than $200 million in gold and silver bullion was retrieved from beneath WTC-4. It was the property of futures dealers at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Latest FactRepublic Video:
15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History
31Sewage Sludge Gold
Traditional prospectors would consider sewage sludge financially feasible due to the presence of commercially viable levels of gold, silver, and platinum in trace amounts. An 8-year research project discovered that one kilogram of sludge included around 0.4 milligrams of gold, 28 milligrams of silver, 638 milligrams of copper, and 49 milligrams of vanadium.
32. In 1825, French King Charles X required that Haiti pay an "independence debt" of 150 million gold francs, which was equal to ten times the country's yearly earnings at the time. Haiti still had to pay France 90 million gold francs, which is around €17 billion in modern currency. In 1947, it was still making payments on this debt.
33. Raffi Stepanian, a resident of Queens, New York City, has made a living by sifting through the dirt and gravel in the crevices of the streets in the Diamond District in search of precious stones. Apparently, in the span of six days, he was able to amass enough gold for two sales totaling $819.
34. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's throne took seven years and four times as much money to construct as the Taj Mahal. The Koh-i-Noor Diamond was among the many priceless gems set into the throne, which itself was made of more than 2,500 pounds of gold and 500 pounds of valuable gemstones.
35. The Japanese use a technique called "kintsugi," where shattered ceramics are repaired with gold. It symbolizes the fact that an object's breaking is an integral part of its story that should not be hidden.
Bre-X, a Canadian penny stock, discovered billions of dollars' worth of gold in Indonesia in 1995. Its shares rose quickly, and its worth rose to $6.6 billion. The chief geologist committed suicide after discovering that the core sample was salted. The company's stock plummeted and became worthless overnight. No one was ever convicted because the main culprit vanished.
37. Battery-free electroplating was invented by Peru's ancient Moche civilization in the 1st century AD to coat copper in a thin coating of gold. Electrochemical replacement plating is feasible without electricity by altering the pH of the gold solution used in gilding. It was cheaper, faster, and better. Electrical plating allows for far thicker layers than the micron-thick ones used by this civilization.
38. Using a nuclear reactor or a particle accelerator, it is now totally conceivable to transmute base metals into gold, a task that alchemists have sought for ages but seemed impossible to accomplish. However, the high cost renders the procedure impractical.
39. In 2001, the shipwreck of the HMS Sussex (1694) was discovered by the treasure-hunting company Odyssey. Even though the Spanish government agreed to help the British authorities recover the loot, they still haven't allowed a team to inspect the location.
40. The Soviet "Order of Victory" is one of the rarest military honors in the world. It had 47 grams of platinum, 2 grams of gold, 19 grams of silver, 25 carats of ruby, and 16 carats of diamond. The value of the medal is believed to be $10 million.
41Gold Mined by Ants
The Asian "ant" mentioned by the historian Herodotus was hairy and about the size of a fox. It dug out gold from the ground, which the inhabitants then gathered. Most likely, this was the Himalayan marmot, which likes to dig tunnels in places where there is plenty of gold. The Indian subcontinent is home to several indigenous tribes that have made a living collecting gold from near their mound for centuries.
42. Many nations sold up their overseas holdings and gold to pay for the war effort during World War II. By 1947, the United States had amassed 70 percent of the world's gold reserves.
43. After the wreck of the SS Central America was found in 1988 and huge amounts of gold was recovered from it, 39 insurance companies that had paid out claims related to the shipwreck in 1857 sued the expedition team.
44. Following World War 2, Croatian concentration camp inmates' stolen gold and jewelry valued at millions of dollars were allegedly laundered by the Vatican, according to claims made by Serbs, Jews, and Roma. There are also claims that they helped a number of important Nazi commanders get away.
45. The ancient Roman Marcus Licinius Crassus was hailed as the world's richest person at the time. He amassed his fortune mostly via the sale of slaves, politics , and real estate. In mockery of his greed, melted gold was poured in his mouth after his death.
46Estimate of Smaug's Gold
In the Hobbit movies, the dragon Smaug is protecting a hoard of gold that weighs 16,646,250 metric tons and has a value of nearly 676 trillion US dollars. That's around 89 times more gold than has ever been mined by humans.
47. The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom include the 4'6" gold St. Edward's Staff. Although its original function has been lost to history, it is nonetheless brought inside the Abbey for coronations and left on the altar there until the ceremony is over.
48. In 2011, a group of experts investigated the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in India, whose exterior is gold-plated. Five out of six vaults were found to contain treasures totaling over $22 billion. The Supreme Court has ordered that Vault B, the sixth vault, stay closed, and its contents therefore still remain a mystery.
49. Some people in the Middle Ages would "clip" coins. Gold and silver were the basic metals for medieval European coinage. Clipping was used to take little pieces of this material from the coin's edge. You could get enough for a new coin if you did this often enough, but if caught, the penalty for this crime was death.
50. Avedis Zildjian, an alchemist who sought a means to transmute base metal into gold, invented the first Zildjian cymbals in 1618. He used a mixture of tin, copper, and silver to make a metal sheet that could vibrate without breaking and make music.