GOLD is the oldest precious metal known to man. Therefore, it is a timely subject for several reasons. It is the opinion of the more objective market experts that the traditional investment vehicles of stocks and bonds are in the areas of their all-time highs and may be due for a severe correction.
Gold Physical Characteristics
There are many physical aspects of the yellow metal which are truly amazing. Gold is the most malleable (able to be hammered into very thin sheets) and ductile (able to be drawn into a fine wire) of all metals. It is so malleable that a goldsmith can hammer one ounce of gold into a thin translucent wafer covering more than 100 square feet only five millionths of an inch thick. It would be so thin that 1,000 sheets would be needed to make up the thickness of one newspaper page. Its ductility is equally amazing. One ounce of gold can be drawn into a wire 50 miles long! Furthermore, ONLY one ounce of this marvelous metal is required to plate a thread of copper 1,000 miles long.
Gold, has been known and highly valued since prehistoric times. It may have been the first metal used by humans and was valued for ornamentation and rituals. Egyptian hieroglyphs from as early as 2600 BCE describe gold, which king Tushratta of the Mitanni claimed was as "common as dust" in Egypt. Egypt and Nubia had the resources to make them major gold-producing areas for much of history. Gold is also mentioned several times in the Old Testament. The south-east corner of the Black Sea was famed for its gold. Exploitation is said to date from the time of Midas, and this gold was important in the establishment of what is probably the world's earliest coinage in Lydia between 643 and 630 BCE.
The European exploration of the Americas was fueled in no small part by reports of the gold ornaments displayed in great profusion by Native American peoples, especially in Central America, Peru, and Colombia.
Gold has long been considered one of the most precious metals, and its value has been used as the standard for many currencies (known as the gold standard) in history. Gold has been used as a symbol for purity, value, royalty, and particularly roles that combine these properties . Gold as a sign of wealth and prestige was made fun of by Thomas More in his treatise Utopia. On that imaginary island, gold is so abundant that it is used to make chains for slaves, tableware and lavatory-seats. When ambassadors from other countries arrive, dressed in ostentatious gold jewels and badges, the Utopians mistake them for menial servants, paying homage instead to the most modestly-dressed of their party.
There is an age-old tradition of biting gold in order to test its authenticity. Although this is certainly not a professional way of examining gold, the bite test should score the gold because gold is considered a soft metal according to the Mohs' scale of mineral hardness. The purer the gold the easier it should be to mark it. Painted lead can cheat this test because lead is softer than gold.
Gold in antiquity was relatively easy to obtain geologically; however, 75% of all gold ever produced has been extracted since 1910. It has been estimated that all the gold in the world that has ever been refined would form a single cube 20 m (66 ft) a side.(
The primary goal of the alchemists was to produce gold from other substances, such as lead — presumably by the interaction with a mythical substance called the philosopher's stone. Although they never succeeded in this attempt, the alchemists promoted an interest in what can be done with substances, and this laid a foundation for today's chemistry. Their symbol for gold was the circle with a point at its center (?), which was also the astrological symbol, the Egyptian hieroglyph and the ancient Chinese character for the Sun (now ?). For modern attempts to produce artificial gold, see gold synthesis.
During the 19th century, gold rushes occurred whenever large gold deposits were discovered, including the California, Colorado, Otago, Australian, Witwatersrand, Black Hills, and Klondike gold rushes.
Because of its historically high value, much of the gold mined throughout history is still in circulation in one form or another.