The worlds largest - and smallest - bars
The smallest cast bar in grammes
weighs 10 g, first made in Brazil by Degussa (since 1985)
as well as subsequently by Ourinvest and CRM. The
smallest cast bar in ounces is the
button bar made by the Perth Mint (Australia)
Tanaka (Japan) has manufactured the
worlds smallest minted bars, mainly for the
jewellery industry, since 1990. They weigh only 0.5 g and
0.3 g. 1 g minted bars, first issued by Credit Suisse
(Switzerland) in 1980, are manufactured by 12 accredited
manufacturers worldwide, including Degussa and Heraeus.
The worlds largest
standard minted bars are the 20 oz and 500 g which are
manufactured by Johnson Matthey (Canada).
Historical Rothschild Bars
NM Rothschild & Sons Limited
(United Kingdom) manufactured gold bars in London for
more than 100 years until 1967. Both the
100 g bar and a 50 g bar were made.
An official stamp on a bar
identifies the name of the issuing company. Among
accredited manufacturers worldwide, the oldest official
stamp still in use is that of the Homestake Mining
Company (USA) which has been using the same stamp since
Oldest Assay Mark
In addition to an
official stamp, many bar manufacturers apply an assay
mark to the bar, certifying the weight and purity. Among
accredited manufacturers worldwide, the oldest assay mark
still in use is that of Schnne Edelmetaal BV
(Netherlands). The same mark, depicting a mercury staff
and two snakes, has been used for more than 200 years.
many investors bullion coins, denominated in ounces and
issued by national mints, offer the easiest way to hold
gold. The Krugerrand (South Africa) was the first gold
coin to be issued with a precise weight in ounces. The 1
oz coin was launched in 1967, the smaller sizes in 1980.
The discovery of gold nuggets stimulated
four great gold rushes in the 19th century: USA (1840s),
Australia (1850s), South Africa (1880s) and Canada
(1890s). These four countries, together with Russia,
still dominate the worlds supply of newly-mined
gold. While most nuggets are small, the largest known
nugget was the Welcome Stranger. Discovered
in Australia in 1858, it weighed 2,284 oz (71 kg).
newly-mined gold is laboriously extracted from this
gold-bearing ore. Typically, around 5 - 10 tonnes of ore
is processed to yield just one ounce of gold. Much gold
is mined at great depths below ground. In South Africa,
the worlds largest gold producing country, these
depths can exceed 3 km.
Most major gold mines process their
gold-bearing ore at the site of the mine, producing low
purity dore bars which are sent to gold
refineries for upgrading into tradeable bars of high
purity (99.5% or more). Dore bars are
normally large, some weighing as much as 25 kg.
Garimpo dore bars are made by
garimpeiros, Brazilian peasants who mine gold
independently or in small groups in the Amazon jungle.
Brazil was the worlds major source of newly-mined
gold in the 18th century. It still yields around 75