Gold is one of the metals taken from the earth and is probably the first metal known to man. Its first use has been traced back to 3600 B. C. and was probably originally obtained in Egypt, as the ancient methods of obtaining gold in Egypt are illustrated in early rock carvings. It is said in the book of Genesis that Abraham, in the twentieth century B. C., when he went out of Egypt, was very rich not only in cattle but in gold and silver both in dust and ingots. In Exodus xxv, 29, we read that Moses was commanded by the Lord to make spoons of gold for the Tabernacle. In the writings of Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Pliny and others, gold is frequently mentioned.
Gold is widely distributed in nature and is found in many ways and in all parts of the world. It is found in water, in the ice of Alaska, in the sand of South Africa, and in the quartz of Colorado, and is frequently found native, though usually alloyed with silver or iron. The purest specimens of native gold have yielded from 96 to 99 per cent, pure metal.
It is remarkable that all of the races of mankind have selected gold as the first and chief representative of value. In the earliest times it was used as a medium of exchange in the form of bars, spikes and rings; the rings could be opened and closed so that a chain could be made for convenience in carrying. Gold was also used at a very early period for the construction of personal ornaments, as the savage found it easy to beat out the pure ore into circlets to adorn his limbs. The universal use of gold in preference to all other metals is due to its many properties; its color and luster, its malleability and its indestructibility. Gold does not tarnish nor can it be destroyed. It may be reduced to a liquid and the liquid transferred to a powder, and the powder when melted in a crucible returns to its natural state. It is the most malleable of all metals and has been hammered into leaves 1-282,000th of an inch thick. An ounce of gold may be drawn out into a wire fifty miles long. The tenacity of gold is seven tons per square inch.
Pure gold, being too soft for all ordinary purposes, is generally alloyed with other metals. Silver and copper are the principal alloys used, although iron is used in small quantities for different purposes. Pure silver has a brilliant white color and is the whitest of all metals. No metal surpasses silver in its luster and hardness it ranges between pure gold and pure copper. It is more fusible than copper or gold, melting at a bright red heat or at 1873F. It is commonly used for the purpose of alloying gold in its pure state, but if too much is added it makes the gold pale. Pure copper is the only metal that has a reddish appearance. It is both malleable and ductile; hence it is very useful as an alloy for gold.
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