It's only fitting that the Museum of American Finance (MOAF), an affiliate of the Smithsonian Museum system located in New York City, would turn its attention to gold.

A new exhibit that opened this past winter is known as "Worth Its Weight: Gold from the Ground Up." Filled with a dizzying array of spectacular gold items from throughout the ages, this exhibit is intended to demonstrate the beauty and universal appeal of gold over the span of human history.

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The exhibit curator, Sarah Poole, said that in addition to highlighting gold as the epitome of luxury, "I also wanted to tell the story behind how gold is discovered and formed into objects.” Hence, Gold from the Ground Up.

A Dazzling Collection

The list of items on display at the MOAF's exhibit is staggering. From artifacts that date to antiquity to modern-day masterpieces whose gilded surfaces glint in in the light, the array of gold items spans thousands of years.

The "Worth Its Weight" exhibit is noteworthy for providing a very well-rounded perspective on the history and benefits of gold, as well. Rather than merely focusing on one aspect of the yellow metal, it covers all angles: the history of gold mining and extraction; gold as a visible symbol of luxury; gold's many practical uses in industry; and gold's allure to the artistic community.

Here are a few of the more intriguing highlights from the collection on display, although this is hardly an exhaustive list:

Image courtesy of Jennifer Nalewicki Image courtesy of Jennifer Nalewicki

ancient gold coins, including the first gold coin ever believed to have been minted, ddating to 564 BCE;

various relics from the California Gold Rush (1848 to 1855), including weathered tools and advertisements to pack up and follow opportunity in the West;

dentures made with a gold alloy from the 19th century;

a gold toilet seat (pictured, left);

a Nokia phone covered in 14-karat gold and encrusted with precious gems;

a Chinese gold boat bar from the famous Degussa collection of gold bars from different cultures around the world;

a fully gold-plated Monopoly game set, meticulously crafted to meet specifications determined by Parker Bros. (the manufacturer);

and a gold mousetrap with a diamond cheese wedge.

Celebrating Gold's Unique Properties

gold-in-flask-wikimediaIn addition to its artistic and symbolic characteristics, the exhibit also accounts for gold's scientific peculiarities. Because gold is extremely malleable, it can be fashioned into all sorts of fascinating shapes. Because gold is non-corrosive and biologically inert (doesn't cause harmful effects to organic matter), it is used in a variety of medical technologies. It also finds a place in aerospace engineering in the form of gold-tinted visors on astronauts' helmets, as well as the extensive use of gold foil to insulate space shuttles. Finally, because gold is highly conductive, small amounts of the metal can be used to power our most impressive modern electronic technologies, from computer chips to smartphones and beyond.

The "Worth Its Weight: Gold from the Ground Up" exhibit at the MOAF will remain on display until the end of December 2016. You can check out more about this amazing project by visiting the Museum of American Finance website.


The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.

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Everett Millman

Everett Millman

Managing Editor | Analyst, Commodities and Finance

Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.

In addition to blogging, Everett's work has been featured in Reuters, CNN Business, Bloomberg Radio, TD Ameritrade Network, CoinWeek, and has been referenced by the Washington Post.