Gold's 5,000-year history can be traced back to the Egyptians around 3,000 B.C., when this ancient civilization linked the power of gold to the life-giving Sun God Ra. In ancient Greek and Roman Times, gold was used to decorate temples and was offered to the Gods. In the centuries that followed, gold's religious and regal uses inspired all of the ancient civilizations to treasure the metal and to use it for personal adornment and as a symbol of power.
In 560 B.C., King Coesius of Lydia discovered another use for gold when he struck the first gold coin. The King, stamping gold coins and bars with his personal heraldic device, made gold his kingdom's "coin of the realm" or "legal tender."
During the following 2,500 years in the evolution of world trade and commerce, gold emerged as the pre-eminent global currency as thousands of gold coins were minted by many countries. Today, gold coins are still highly desirable by investors as a trusted store of value and a recognized medium of exchange. Many of the rarer gold coins are valued by knowledgeable coin collectors at substantial premiums above their bullion value. Additionally, gold bars are held by central banks to assure their ability to make international payments.
No other substance embodies the unique characteristics of gold. Its luster and beauty are unsurpassed. It combines easy workability, excellent conductivity and virtual indestructibility. The five largest producers of gold are South Africa, the former Soviet Union, the United States, Australia and Canada. Gold's value is intrinsic. It is a precious metal that cannot be destroyed or altered. Gold is highly liquid, has few geographic boundaries and can be bought, sold, and stored in most parts of the free world with privacy. Because of its global market, the price of gold cannot be manipulated by any single nation or borrower. On the contrary, gold is widely thought of as the foundation of the world's monetary system.
Gold, silver, and platinum bullion investment demand has reached record levels for the decade. Much of the demand is due to concerns over a Y2K-related liquidity crunch and potential financial market risks. During the past year, the major Mints reported heavy total sales levels of precious metal bullion inventories, the low precious metals prices seen in 1998 may have had equally as important a role in motivating investors.
If the past 5,000 years of history offers any indication, Investors hold gold for two basic reasons:
|1. Gold can act as a stop-gap currency if bank networks fail, also offers protection against one's cash losing value if governments opt to inflate their way out of a crisis.
2. As the unit of account through the ages, nearly everyone knows, recognizes, and values gold.