From Gold Rush to Gold Standard: History's Filigree

Article excerpt

A timeline of the precious metal's effects on the world - from gold rush to gold standard.

- 5500-2500 BC Gold is first discovered in the later part of the Stone Age, probably in Mesopotamia.

- 3000 BC Gold rings are used for payments in Egypt.

- 650 BC The Lydian Lion - a bean-shaped gold piece stamped with a lion - is considered the first true coin. It is first minted by Lydia, the ancient Greek kingdom ruled by Croesus a century later.

- 250 BC The Greek mathematician Archimedes demonstrated that the purity of gold can be determined by calculating its density (weight and amount of water it displaces- ).-

- AD 1284 Venice introduces the gold ducat, which becomes the most popular coin in world commerce for more than five centuries.

- 1511 King Ferdinand of Spain sets the tone for his expeditions to the New World, admonishing his explorers: "Get gold, humanely if you can, but at all hazards, get gold."

- 1787 First American gold coin - the Brasher doubloon - is struck by gold- and silversmith Ephraim Brasher.

- 1792 The Coinage Act puts the US on a bimetallic silver-gold standard, defining the dollar as equivalent to 24.75 grains of fine gold and 371.25 grains of fine silver.

- 1799 The first US gold rush is sparked by the discovery of a 17- pound gold nugget at Little Meadow Creek, N.C.

- 1821 Britain institutes the first gold standard.

- 1848 The discovery of gold at Sutter's sawmill near Sacramento, Calif., sparked the California gold rush and accelerated settlement of the American West.

- 1851 Australian gold rush begins in New South Wales, in the southeast.

- 1870s North American gold finds make the metal more plentiful, prompting the US, Germany, and France to adopt the gold standard, followed by many other countries.

- 1886 While digging up stones to build a house, George Harrison makes the largest gold discovery in history in Witwatersrand, South Africa. The deposit produces 40 percent of the world's gold by 1985.

- 1887 Scottish chemist John Steward MacArthur wins a British patent for the gold cyanidation process. It enables the separation of gold from ore and doubles the world gold output within 20 years.

- 1897 The Klondike gold rush sees 100,000 "stampeders" head north after gold is discovered in the Canadian Yukon the previous year.

- 1900 The Gold Standard Act places the US officially on the gold standard, a fixed exchange rate in relation to other countries on the gold standard.

- 1903 The Engelhard Corporation creates a liquid medium to print gold on surfaces - for tender and decoration. The medium becomes the basis for microcircuit printing technology.

- 1913 Federal Reserve Act sets up a central banking authority and specifies that Federal Reserve notes be backed 40 percent in gold. …