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Gold: Some glittering facts

June 25, 2007 12:00 IST

Do you know which is the first known piece of gold jewellery? Or have you heard of the most famous piece of gold? If not, read below some amazing facts on gold.

Which is the most expensive gold coin in the world

One of the world's rarest and most sought after collector coins, the 1933 Double Eagle, was sold at Sotheby's auction house in New York on Tuesday July 30, 2002 for the record sum of $7.59 million. The coin, featuring a standing Liberty on one side and an eagle on the other, was minted in 1933 at the height of the Depression but never circulated as President Roosevelt abandoned the Gold Standard.

All 445,500 coins, each with a face value of $20, were put into storage and ordered to be melted down in 1937, but it was not until the 1940s that it was discovered ten coins had not been returned. Nine were subsequently recovered but one coin got away and ended up in the collection of King Farouk of Egypt. It disappeared again in the mid 1950s and resurfaced in 1996 when a UK coin dealer attempted to sell it to undercover Secret Service agents in New York.

After protracted legal wrangling it was agreed that the coin be sold at auction with the proceeds split between the dealer and the US Mint's enterprise fund.

What is the first known piece of gold jewellery

The earliest gold jewellery dates from the Sumer civilisation in between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Iraq around 3,000 BC. A major archeological find of early jewellery was in the Royal tombs of Ur, in Mesopotamia, dated to around 2,600 BC where gold articles made by lost wax casting included a wild ass on the rein ring of a chariot. Copper and bronze inlaid with gold also date to this period, demonstrating the craft skills in metalworking that existed.

A beautifully modelled bull cast in gold dating to 2,300 BC was found in the Caucasus in eastern Europe. In Egypt, gold jewellery and other artefacts have been found in Pharoah's tombs dating to around 1500 BC and later.

Which is the most famous piece of gold

This has to be the face mask of the boy-king of Egypt (1361-1352 BC), Tutankhamun discovered in his tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter. This tomb preserved some of the greatest treasures of the goldsmiths art. This face mask is normally on display in the Cairo museum. 

What is World Cup Trophy made of?

The World Cup Trophy is 32cm high and is made of solid 18-carat gold.

Have you heard of gold doors in a bank?

There is a bank in Oman which has gold doors. The gilding of doors goes back to ancient times when fire gilding and later mercury gilding techniques were used on alloys containing gold to produce a gold-rich surface layer. The famous Corinthian Bronze of the Roman Empire is an example of this used in the great gate of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem. 

What is recycling of gold

Gold has always been recycled because of its inherent high value, ever since it was first discovered before the Bronze age. Thus your modern jewellery or dental crown may contain some gold that was mined in prehistoric times and formed part of a valued gold artefact or jewellery belonging to royalty or other high placed official in ancient civilisations. Today, at least 15 per cent of annual gold consumption is recycled each year. 

Which are the famous films about gold

There are many examples of films centred around man's greed for gold -- for example the James Bond film, Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery, the Italian Job, starring Michael Caine, the Maltese Falcon and the Lavender Hill Mob.

Commodity Online Special