1. There are around 10 billion tonnes of gold dissolved in the world’s oceans
Gold exists in small but substantial quantities in simple sea water. If you could filter it out efficiently enough, you could recover 20 tonnes of gold from a cube of seawater one mile to a side. The oceans are estimated to hold more gold than humans have mined throughout history. Unfortunately, it is substantially more expensive to recover gold from seawater than it is to mine it traditionally.
2. There have been no major gold-backed currencies since 1999
Before the Swiss joined the International Monetary Fund in 1999, the Swiss Franc was backed (at least, 40% of it) by their gold reserves. Even then the remaining 60% of the currency was supported in the modern fashion. In fact, until the early 1960s, most western countries were on the ‘gold standard’. Of course, most countries still maintain large bullion reserves today, but the value of currencies like the Pound and the Euro are not directly tied to those reserves.
3. Elvis Presley once owned not one but three gold plated cars
Technically, only the hubcaps, fenders and other bright work of the vehicles (which were traditionally chrome plated) were gilded. Nonetheless, the cars made a striking sight!
4. Completely pure gold is incredibly soft at room temperature
Gold is 99.99% pure can be bent and deformed easily by hand. This is one of the reasons large amounts of very pure gold have traditionally been shaped into ingots or bars to be transported. Large amounts of coined pure gold would bend themselves, as all that weight settled on the bottom coins.
5. Gold is much, much heavier than it appears in the movies
A 400 troy ounce gold bar weighs 12.4 kilos, just under 2 stone. It is between 21 and 39 cm long and only 2.5 to 4.5 cm thick. The props used in movies are often twice that size. Imagine the star of your favourite heist movie casually picking up a 4 stone bar with his left hand or sprinting off with a rucksack full of them!
6. The world’s largest gold coin is more than 38 cm wide
Austria’s Philharmonic bullion coin weighs 31 kg (828 t oz). This record is certified by the Guinness Book of Records. However, Canada minted a non-standard coin in 2007 at 3217 troy ounces, or 100 kg. Guinness does not consider it a real coin, though.
7. The gold medals awarded at the Olympics have not been pure gold since before World War 1
The gold medals awarded in this year’s games are actually made of .925 grade silver, and plated with a mere 6 grams of gold. The silver medal is actually solid .925 silver, but the bronze medal is mostly copper. The medals for the 2012 games in London were minted by the Royal Mint itself. The last pure gold Olympic medals were awarded for the 1912 games.
8. It is believed by planetologists that mineable quantities of gold exist on other planets
Gold is likely to exist on all the smaller, rocky planets in our solar system – that is – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. It might be some time before any gold is mined on another planet, but the collector’s value of it would be considerable if it ever is.
Did you find this article interesting?
Consider signing up for the Royal Mint’s regular newsletter. It is absolutely free, and you will receive articles just like this one, as well as special opportunities for collectors, investors and precious metal enthusiast of all kinds.