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  Gold Net Australia Online Magazine


  GOLD COMMENT - February 2006  

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 30th July 2002 for the record sum of US$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.

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.

The earliest gold jewellery dates from the Sumer civilisation in between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Iraq around 3000 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.

The most famous known gold artefact in the world 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.

It is of great interest to see in the movies when gold is being stolen etc. that one guy seems to be able to carry a large amount of gold bullion in bags in each hand. The gold that are usually shown in the movies are at least 12.5kg bars. The guy can usually carry about 50 in each bag of course. In reality 50 x 12.5 kg is 625kg in each hand...They sure are strong guys in the movies!!

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