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
- 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
- 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