Gold first began being used as a form of currency in the form of proto-money around the fourth millennium BCE, where it has been traced back to the Egyptians using gold bars as a method of exchange.
However, gold coins weren’t being used until around 700BC when they were created in Lydia during the Grecian age. Although gold and silver are the most commonly used metals as a form of currency and in the minting of coins, other metals, such as iron or copper were also used.
British currency, the pound sterling, is the world’s oldest currency that is still in use today. It originated in the Anglo-Saxon era where one pound was equal to 240 silver pennies or one pound weight of silver. From this era, the pound evolved and became the presently used pound sterling.
How much gold is in British Sterling?
Sterling silver, where the British Sterling name derives from mixed metal that has 92.5% or more real silver, which is why sterling silver jewellery and ornaments are stamped with ‘925’. From Charles, the Great’s reign up until the 12th century, the silver British coins were made from the highest purity of silver available.
However, this ultimately caused problems as the coins were highly susceptible to wearing down and were commonly clipped or trimmed. Henry II introduced the Sterling Silver standard, with coins being minted from 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. However again, this did not last. With each newly appointed monarch, the amount of silver used was changed in the making of coins until 1947 when silver was finally eliminated altogether.
Although our current pound coin and two-pound coins have an outer gold ring, none of our current British currency contains any gold. These gold-coloured rings are actually made up of a combination of nickel and brass, with the silver centre made up of a nickel-plated alloy.
So, although it may be a common assumption that our coins contain some gold, actually, this is not the case. Silver seemed to reign supreme for a long period of time in the making of British coins, but even that proved difficult to maintain and thus we began creating metal combinations and alloys to give gold and silver effects.
Have you got any REAL gold to sell?
If you have any old jewellery, ornaments, or even scrap gold then come and see us at The Manchester Gold Exchange, Great Ancoats Street, M4 7DB for a FREE valuation of your items.
If you aren’t totally sure whether your item is real gold, our experts can help you to find out. Our expert analysists can quote you a non-obligational price in no time at all and you could even receive a same-day cash payment for any gold items you choose to sell to us!