. . . gold shines like fire blazing in the night,
supreme of lordly wealth.
     Pindar, Greek poet, 476 BCE

The story of gold is both rich and complicated. It has come to symbolize many things—wealth, beauty, immortality, power, purity, and love. It is an object of desire that many consider unsurpassed. Empires have been created around it, explorers have sought it, wars have been fought to obtain it.

In ancient times, gold was seen as the exclusive right of the nobility; the creations that resulted have been marveled at over time. Gold is part of religious rituals, symbolizes spirits, is an essential part of burial traditions, is used in dowries, inspires artists, and frequently has a role in declaring love.

The possibility of obtaining gold has fired the imagination of people, creating gold rushes at the mere whisper of discovery. It has also caused people to level mountains and clear forests in the unrelenting passion to obtain this precious metal.

Gold has been used as a secure means of storing wealth since 6000 BCE. In our present uncertain economic times, Read More
. . . gold shines like fire blazing in the night,
supreme of lordly wealth.

     Pindar, Greek poet, 476 BCE

The story of gold is both rich and complicated. It has come to symbolize many things—wealth, beauty, immortality, power, purity, and love. It is an object of desire that many consider unsurpassed. Empires have been created around it, explorers have sought it, wars have been fought to obtain it.

In ancient times, gold was seen as the exclusive right of the nobility; the creations that resulted have been marveled at over time. Gold is part of religious rituals, symbolizes spirits, is an essential part of burial traditions, is used in dowries, inspires artists, and frequently has a role in declaring love.

The possibility of obtaining gold has fired the imagination of people, creating gold rushes at the mere whisper of discovery. It has also caused people to level mountains and clear forests in the unrelenting passion to obtain this precious metal.

Gold has been used as a secure means of storing wealth since 6000 BCE. In our present uncertain economic times, we listen to daily reports of the rising price of gold.

Gold expressions are sprinkled throughout our language. We know that silence is golden. We strive to be as good as gold. We’d love to find a pot of gold but are more likely to have a heart of gold. We eat golden delicious apples, use gold credit cards, and may be allergic to goldenrod.

Because of gold’s unique properties and fabled role in our culture, there are myriad amazing facts about this metal.

Past, present, and future—we witness incredible change. One constant is the valued role of gold in every era of history; it’s easy to predict this will continue for generations to come.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Choose any country. Gold has had—and often still has—an impact on aspects of the culture. The following five examples offer a glimpse into some of the ways gold affects people.

India:  Where Gold Equals Good Fortune
India is the largest consumer of gold today, a clear reflection of the important role that gold plays in Indian society. There is the dowry, where gold is the measure of value a woman brings to the marriage, and there are the rituals, which extend throughout a person’s life.

For example, when a baby is born in the Indian state of Kerala, a grandmother rubs a gold coin in honey and places a drop of the liquid on the baby’s tongue for good luck. At the age of three, a learned relative takes a gold coin and uses it to trace words on the child’s tongue. This, it is believed, will bestow the gift of eloquence.

The Sun on Earth: African Gold
The Asante nation is just one example of gold’s importance in Africa. The Ashanti people believe that gold is the sun’s earthly counterpart, representing life’s Read More
Choose any country. Gold has had—and often still has—an impact on aspects of the culture. The following five examples offer a glimpse into some of the ways gold affects people.

India:  Where Gold Equals Good Fortune
India is the largest consumer of gold today, a clear reflection of the important role that gold plays in Indian society. There is the dowry, where gold is the measure of value a woman brings to the marriage, and there are the rituals, which extend throughout a person’s life.

For example, when a baby is born in the Indian state of Kerala, a grandmother rubs a gold coin in honey and places a drop of the liquid on the baby’s tongue for good luck. At the age of three, a learned relative takes a gold coin and uses it to trace words on the child’s tongue. This, it is believed, will bestow the gift of eloquence.

The Sun on Earth: African Gold
The Asante nation is just one example of gold’s importance in Africa. The Ashanti people believe that gold is the sun’s earthly counterpart, representing life’s vital force.

In this country that is now Ghana, the Ashanti people tell the story of a golden stool that descended from heaven, landing on the lap of the first Asante king. This stool is believed to actually contain all the spirits of the Asante nation, living, dead, and yet to be born, and is still treasured in rituals.

Gold of the Inca
The Inca in South America, who called gold “the sweat of the gods,” are famed for the amount of this precious metal they amassed. Their capital, Cuzco, had a temple with a garden containing golden life-sized plants, animals, men and women. The desire to possess this gold fueled the Spanish conquest of the Incas in the 1500s, when King Ferdinand of Spain ordered, “Get Gold!” The Incas, unsuccessfully, tried to save their king with a ransom of gold—filling an entire room. The Spanish melted most of this treasure down—and killed the Incan king.

Huetar
The pre-Columbian Huetar of Costa Rica panned for gold in rivers, using large leaves and calabash gourds.  In Costa Rica too, it was the elite who wore gold, and gold was buried with them.

Mi’kmaq
The Mi’kmaq called gold wisosooleawa, meaning brown silver. In the history of Nova Scotia’s gold rush, there are many stories of Mi’kmaq guides who took hunters out looking for game—and instead came across gold. There is no evidence of them mining gold themselves before that time.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

A drawing of the Mi’kmaq symbol for gold

There is no indication that the Mi'kmaq used gold, but they likely knew it existed in Nova Scotia. Mi'kmaq guides accompanied both Captain L'Estrange and John Gerrish Pulsifer during the expeditions that led to their documented discoveries of gold.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.


O Gold! I still prefer thee unto paper,                                      
Which makes bank credit like a bark of vapour.
    George Gordon Lord Byron, 1819, English poet

Coins and Bars
Gold has been used as a medium of exchange within and between nations for at least 8000 years. It has been made into a variety of coins:  there was the daric, named after Darius the Great in Persia  (521-486 BCE), Augustus of Rome issued the aureus (31 BCE-CE 14), Constantine the Great (CE 306-377) replaced that with the solidus. In Canada today, gold Maple Leaf bullion coins are minted. They are said to be the world’s most popular pure gold coin because of their standard of purity, 9999 fine.

The Canadian Mint also produces gold kilo bars, trade bars, and gold wafers. Different countries produce their own specific bars and bullions. Brazil makes finger-shaped Read More
O Gold! I still prefer thee unto paper,                                      
Which makes bank credit like a bark of vapour.

    George Gordon Lord Byron, 1819, English poet

Coins and Bars
Gold has been used as a medium of exchange within and between nations for at least 8000 years. It has been made into a variety of coins:  there was the daric, named after Darius the Great in Persia  (521-486 BCE), Augustus of Rome issued the aureus (31 BCE-CE 14), Constantine the Great (CE 306-377) replaced that with the solidus. In Canada today, gold Maple Leaf bullion coins are minted. They are said to be the world’s most popular pure gold coin because of their standard of purity, 9999 fine.

The Canadian Mint also produces gold kilo bars, trade bars, and gold wafers. Different countries produce their own specific bars and bullions. Brazil makes finger-shaped ingots; Hong Kong and Taiwan produce the boat-shaped tael bar. In the United States, the gold left in a crucible when a regular-sized gold bar is cast is shaped into a small ingot nicknamed a “Hershey Bar.”

Gold Standard
Gold has been used as a measure of value for centuries. In early Babylon, currencies were based on grain, but gold was used to represent the grain’s stored value. That same idea of an agreed upon standard made it possible for paper money to take the place of trading heavy gold bullion or coins. The value of the currency unit—for instance, dollar—was defined in relation to the value of gold.

At different times in different countries, a gold standard was established, guaranteeing that paper money could be redeemed for its value in gold. This history had many permutations over the centuries. Some countries had a silver standard, some a combined standard. The purpose was to stabilize the global economy, by requiring that only as much currency could be issued as there was gold in reserve.

The gold standard was legislated in Great Britain in 1844 and by the United States in 1900. The Canadian dollar was defined as 15/73 of the British sovereign in 1858. In 1910, the Canadian dollar became the exact gold equivalent of the U.S. dollar.  During World War I, many countries suspended the gold standard in order to print more paper money—connected to no standard—to pay for military expenses. In 1929, Canada ended its adherence to the gold standard. In 1971, it was President Nixon who called an end to trading gold at a fixed price, the practice that had replaced the gold standard in 1946.

Through all these changes, gold continued to increase in value. Many buyers think it is the best form of security, particularly in times of economic uncertainty. This belief, and recent financial unrest, has caused record high prices for gold. In 2010 there were thirty-five successive highs recorded by the London afternoon fix; there are two fixes a day which record the world price of gold.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

The history of gold is the history of the uses that people have found for it, as well as the history of what they have been willing to do in order to get it.

c. 3600 BCE    First smelting of gold
     Egyptian goldsmiths used blowpipes made from clay to heat smelting furnaces in order to melt separate metals.

950 BCE    Solomon builds gold temple
     Solomon’s famed temple was said to have walls and floors overlaid with gold.

600 BCE    First gold dentistry practiced
     The Etruscans made substitute teeth, using gold wire to attach them.

300    First gold nanoparticle
     The Romans melted gold powder into glass, diffusing nanoparticles that refract light.

1803    First gold electroplating practiced
     This was an essentia Read More
The history of gold is the history of the uses that people have found for it, as well as the history of what they have been willing to do in order to get it.

c. 3600 BCE    First smelting of gold
     Egyptian goldsmiths used blowpipes made from clay to heat smelting furnaces in order to melt separate metals.

950 BCE    Solomon builds gold temple
     Solomon’s famed temple was said to have walls and floors overlaid with gold.

600 BCE    First gold dentistry practiced
     The Etruscans made substitute teeth, using gold wire to attach them.

300    First gold nanoparticle
     The Romans melted gold powder into glass, diffusing nanoparticles that refract light.

1803    First gold electroplating practiced
     This was an essential step for many 21st century technologies.

1848     California Gold Rush begins
     John Marshall discovered gold flakes while building a sawmill near Sacramento, California. The greatest gold rush of all time followed, as 40,000 diggers flocked to California from around the world.

1860     Nova Scotian Gold Rush begins
    Joseph Howe, Nova Scotia’s Provincial Secretary (which would be equivalent to being the Premier in the present day) reported, “Some hundreds of persons, tempted by rumours of the Existence of the precious metal, rushed into the woods . . . “

1885     South African Gold Rush begins
    
1961     First gold bonded microchips
     Billions of these chips are bonded every year now, indispensable for many electrical devices.

1961     First gold in space
     This was the first manned space flight; gold was used to protect instruments from radiation.

1985     First gold-based arthritis treatment
     The gold-based drug, Auranofin, was given regulatory approval .
    
2001     First gold used in heart surgery
     A gold-plated stent was used in heart surgery.

2011     Gold in catalytic converters
     For the first time, gold was used in emissions control for automobiles.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

We realize early in life that we’re striving for gold. It might be the gold medal for the soccer championship or the gold star our teacher puts on our homework. In almost every aspect of our culture, from science to art, gold is used to reward the best—the winners.
 
Gold in Rocks
Sir William Logan was the first director of The Geological Survey of Canada, which was created in 1841 to explore Canada’s wilderness. His mandate was to record the riches the land might have to offer. Logan didn’t think much time should be wasted looking for gold. His interest was in resources that he thought would be useful in everyday life, like slate for fireproof roofs and flagstones for roads.

Logan is renowned as Canada’s first great scientist; his journals record his travels throughout Canada. Logan gathered rock samples, created maps and wore out many pairs of boots as he hiked through the wilderness.

He received many awards. Logan’s exhibit of Canadian minerals at the 1855 Exhibition in Paris, along with a geological map and booklet, won him first prize—and gold.
Read More
We realize early in life that we’re striving for gold. It might be the gold medal for the soccer championship or the gold star our teacher puts on our homework. In almost every aspect of our culture, from science to art, gold is used to reward the best—the winners.
 
Gold in Rocks
Sir William Logan was the first director of The Geological Survey of Canada, which was created in 1841 to explore Canada’s wilderness. His mandate was to record the riches the land might have to offer. Logan didn’t think much time should be wasted looking for gold. His interest was in resources that he thought would be useful in everyday life, like slate for fireproof roofs and flagstones for roads.

Logan is renowned as Canada’s first great scientist; his journals record his travels throughout Canada. Logan gathered rock samples, created maps and wore out many pairs of boots as he hiked through the wilderness.

He received many awards. Logan’s exhibit of Canadian minerals at the 1855 Exhibition in Paris, along with a geological map and booklet, won him first prize—and gold.

Gold in sports too!
Sidney Crosby has been collecting gold medals since he was a boy in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, shooting hockey pucks against his family’s clothes dryer. His 2010 Olympic gold medal must have seemed especially golden, since Sidney was the one to score the winning goal in overtime.

The Coveted Statuette—Gold at the Oscars

We watch the Oscars each year, cheering for our favorites and guessing who will win the coveted gold statuettes. We cheer for the stars, but one winner of two Oscars would be recognized by few. Harold Russell is little known to most Nova Scotians, although he was born there in 1914. Russell is the only person to win two Oscars for one role—as Best Supporting Actor and also as an Inspiration for Returning Veterans—in the movie “The Best Years of Our Lives.” His hands had been blown off in WWII and he had hooks in their place. Russell was practical about those gold statuettes. He kept one and sold the other for $62,000 to help pay for his wife’s medical expenses.

Music’s Golden Notes—Gold Records

Anne Murray started singing early, in Springhill, Nova Scotia, where she grew up among five brothers. She claims singing was her attempt to be better at something than her siblings. Her single, “Snowbird,” was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in November ,1970. It was the first time that a solo Canadian female was awarded an American gold record. It was written by PEI’s Gene McLellan, the second song he ever composed, which he said he wrote in 25 minutes.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Sidney Crosby holding his 2010 Olympic gold medal for men's ice hockey.

From Cole Harbour, Sidney is one of the most talented and honoured hockey players in the NHL, having received the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, the Rocket Richard Trophy, and the Mark Messier Leadership Award. His most celebrated moment to date is perhaps his game-winning goal for the team hockey gold medal, scored in overtime at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

The Canadian Press
2010
Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA
Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, The Canadian Press. All Rights Reserved.


Photograph of Anne Murray’s framed 45 Gold Record for the song "Snowbird".

Framed 45 rpm Gold record of "Snowbird" awarded to Anne Murray by the Recording Industry Association of America, 1970. Representing the achievement of more than one million copies sold, it was the first Gold record ever given to a Canadian solo female artist in the United States.

Anne Murray
1970-11
Springhill, Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Anne Murray Centre. All Rights Reserved.


More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has been taken from the earth.
    Napoleon Hill

There are many ways we use the word gold. Sometimes we combine it with other words to create vivid images that gain meaning simply because of the value we place on gold. Many are idioms, a group of words that has a meaning other than the basic words. A heart of gold would definitely weigh a body down, taken literally. But in our culture, a heart of gold is a high compliment, describing generosity.

Some golden expressions are compliments.
    Heart of gold
    Good as gold
    Worth your weight in gold

Some describe longed for financial possibilities.
    Pot of gold
    Sitting on a gold mine
    Strike gold
 
Others have to do with a romanticized image of age. Read More
More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has been taken from the earth.
    Napoleon Hill

There are many ways we use the word gold. Sometimes we combine it with other words to create vivid images that gain meaning simply because of the value we place on gold. Many are idioms, a group of words that has a meaning other than the basic words. A heart of gold would definitely weigh a body down, taken literally. But in our culture, a heart of gold is a high compliment, describing generosity.

Some golden expressions are compliments.
    Heart of gold
    Good as gold
    Worth your weight in gold


Some describe longed for financial possibilities.

    Pot of gold
    Sitting on a gold mine
    Strike gold

 
Others have to do with a romanticized image of age.
    Golden years
    Golden anniversary
    Golden girls


Knowing the meaning of each of these would be helpful in the business world.
    Golden handshake
    Golden parachute
    Golden handcuffs


Here is list of some words and expressions that have been mined in our language. Some express different conditions and emotions; some simply describe a colour attribute.

heart of gold
good as gold
dripping with gold
be like gold dust

gold mine of  information

black gold

worth your weight in gold

gold-rimmed
pot of gold
sitting on a gold mine

gold digger
strike gold
go for gold
golden gods
golden goose/goose that laid the golden egg

Goldilocks
gold rush
gold rushers
There’s gold in them there hills!

24 karat gold
gold nuggets
golden age
golden anniversary
golden ringlets
golden melodies
golden girls
golden parachute
golden handcuffs
golden handshake
silence is golden
streets paved with gold

golden fleece
Goldfinger
On Golden Pond
fool’s gold
gold foil
gold leaf
gold plated
golden calf
gold credit card
golden harvest
gold record
golden rings
river of gold
golden delicious golden raisins
goldenrod
marigold
golden rays

gold standard
gold plated
gold coast
liquid gold
Scotian Gold
gold Coast

More language inspired by gold
There are expressions that actually use the word gold. There are also words that have gained their meaning in relation to gold. Here are a few:

Midas touch
‘49ers
Mother lode
Mint condition
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

1. One ounce of gold can be stretched into a wire so thin that it is only five millionths of a metre thick. That thin wire could stretch over a distance of 80 kilometres.

2. One ounce of gold (that’s about the size of a quarter) can be hammered into a thin sheet that could cover about nine square metres.

3. Gold leaf can be as thin as three billionths of a centimetre. That means a stack of 7,055 sheets would be no thicker than a dime.

4. All the gold mined in the history of the world would fit into two Olympic sized swimming pools.

5. The visors on astronaut’s space helmets have a coating of gold that is so thin they can still see through it. That thin layer is able to reduce glare and heat from sunlight.

6. Oceans have more gold than anywhere else in the world. It’s too expensive to be worthwhile extracting it—yet.

7. Read More
1. One ounce of gold can be stretched into a wire so thin that it is only five millionths of a metre thick. That thin wire could stretch over a distance of 80 kilometres.

2. One ounce of gold (that’s about the size of a quarter) can be hammered into a thin sheet that could cover about nine square metres.

3. Gold leaf can be as thin as three billionths of a centimetre. That means a stack of 7,055 sheets would be no thicker than a dime.

4. All the gold mined in the history of the world would fit into two Olympic sized swimming pools.

5. The visors on astronaut’s space helmets have a coating of gold that is so thin they can still see through it. That thin layer is able to reduce glare and heat from sunlight.

6. Oceans have more gold than anywhere else in the world. It’s too expensive to be worthwhile extracting it—yet.

7. The largest gold nugget ever discovered is called the “Welcome Stranger”. It weighed 78 kilograms, and was found in Victoria, Australia in 1869.

8. In the Aztec language, gold is called teocuitiati. That means “excrement of the gods.”

9. The Federal Reserve Bank in New York has the largest store of gold in the entire world. It is contained in a vault 25 metres beneath the street. The gold bullion is worth $147 billion (probably more in these days of rising prices). Luckily, Manhattan’s bedrock is strong enough to support the vault, the vault’s door, and the gold.

10.  Just one out of every one billion atoms of rock in the Earth’s crust is gold.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

1. You have read about five countries and different aspects of the role that gold played in their culture. Choose another country to research in relation to gold, answering the following questions.
    a. Who? (culture or people)
    b. Where? (continent, country)
    c. When? (time period)
    d. How? (How was it significant)
    e. What? (draw an example or describe gold object(s) of significance)  

2. Write a story that develops a character, using at least ten gold expressions to describe character traits, objects, or situations.

3. If you had a choice between investing in the stock market, putting your money in a savings account, or buying gold, which would you choose? Do research to justify your answer. Is there a different wa Read More
1. You have read about five countries and different aspects of the role that gold played in their culture. Choose another country to research in relation to gold, answering the following questions.
    a. Who? (culture or people)
    b. Where? (continent, country)
    c. When? (time period)
    d. How? (How was it significant)
    e. What? (draw an example or describe gold object(s) of significance)  

2. Write a story that develops a character, using at least ten gold expressions to describe character traits, objects, or situations.

3. If you had a choice between investing in the stock market, putting your money in a savings account, or buying gold, which would you choose? Do research to justify your answer. Is there a different way you would choose to store your money so it maintains (or increases in value). Justify your answer. 

4. Create your own culture. Choose the article most valued in that culture and write a story that describes the role that article plays in the society. You can create a legend, write your own history, make a video, etc.

5. Create an award. What do you think deserves gold?
    a. Describe the occasion or accomplishment that earns the reward.
    b. Make the trophy, medal, or other article that will be awarded out of whatever
materials you choose.

6. Think about the whole idea of rewards: Winner gets gold.
    a. How would you arrange reward if you were in charge?
    b. Create your own system and justify your rationale.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

1. Interpret, select, and combine information using a variety of strategies, resources, and technologies.
    (English Language Arts, Grades 7-12)

 2. Use writing and other forms of representing to explore, clarify and reflect on their learning; and to use their imagination.
    (English Language Arts, Grades 7-12)

3. Respect the contributions to the arts of individuals and cultural groups in local and global contexts, and value the arts as a record of human experiences and expression.
    (Visual Arts, Grades 7-12)

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