|The International Gold Bars Collection is at the Bank of England Museum from 19 Februay to 14 May 1998
Categories of Gold Bar
Gold Bar is defined as any gold item, regardless of shape, which is made by a gold bar manufacturer, records the name of the manufacturer, the precise weight and the precise purity, and is sold at a low premium above the gold price.
The following is a list of Refiners of gold whose large bars were found to meet the required standard when originally tested. The London Bullion Market Association 2009.
Good Delivery List of Acceptable Refiners: Gold
The International Gold Bars Exhibition highlights the remarkable range and diversity of gold bars available and includes the following gold bars:
‘400’ oz (‘12.5’ kg) gold bar
There are only 55 active manufacturers worldwide whose ‘400 oz’ (‘12.5 kg’) gold bars are accepted internationally as London Good Delivery.
‘400 oz’ London Good Delivery gold bars are permitted to weigh between 350 oz and 430 oz. Minimum gold purity: 99.5%. Around 150,000 are made each year. Central banks normally hold gold in the form of these gold bars and are believed to hold 2.5 million of them.
The kilogold bar (1000 g) is the world’s most widely traded small gold bar. It is popular among investors and fabricators as it is normally traded at an extremely low premium above the prevailing value of its gold content.
While most kilogold bars have a flat ‘international’ shape, traditional kilogold bars in the shape of a ‘brick’ are still preferred by some investors and fabricators in Europe.
The Exhibition displays the kilogold bars of 53 manufacturers which are approved by the world’s major gold dealing exchanges in London, New York, Tokyo and Zurich.
These rough cast gold bars are manufactured by thousands of small ‘backyard’ gold bar manufacturers in Pakistan to a theoretical ‘99.9%’ purity. The gold bars are not made to any precise weight but depend on the variable amount of gold available, usually old gold jewellery, to be melted in the crucible.
They resemble the earliest known gold coins made by the Lydian kings of Asia Minor in the 7th century BC. The method used by Pakistanis in the manufacture of ‘tezabi’ gold bars is not believed to have changed in over 2,000 years. The Exhibition displays tezabi gold bars manufactured by Saleh Mohammed in Pakistan.
Tael gold bars
A tael is a Chinese unit of weight. One tael is equivalent to 1.2 oz or 37.4 g. Tael gold bars, ranging from tael to 10 taels, are widely traded in Chinese-speaking countries, mainly Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Cast tael gold bars are manufactured in 3 shapes: ‘biscuits’, ‘doughnuts’ and ‘boats’ and the Exhibition displays a variety of tael gold bars from manufacturers in Hong Kong.
‘Boat’ gold bars
Tael gold bars, described as ‘boats’, range from � tael to 10 taels. The traditional ‘boat’ shape is known to have been used for silver and other Chinese coinage as far back as the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD).
‘Biscuit’ gold bars
The most popular tael gold bar weight is the 5 tael ‘biscuit’ cast gold bar (6 oz or 187 g). 5 tael ‘biscuits’, manufactured in Hong Kong and accredited to the Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange (founded in 1910), are traded in large quantities. Minted tael gold bars, normally made outside Hong Kong, are also available.
‘Doughnut’ gold bars
Tael gold bars, described as ‘doughtnuts’, are available in 3 small sizes, �, 1 and 2 taels. The ‘doughnut’ shape is a traditional Chinese shape for coinage. The hole enables many gold bars to be securely stacked together on wooden rods or bound together with string.
Baht gold bars
The baht is a Thai unit of weight. The most popular gold bar is the 10 baht cast gold bar, equivalent to 150.4 g or 4.9 oz. The traditional gold purity of baht gold bars is unusual: 96.5%. The Exhibition displays baht gold bars issued by a variety of manufacturers.
Tola gold bars
The tola is an Indian unit of weight. The most popular weight is the 10 tola cast gold bar, equivalent to 3.75 oz or 116.64 g. More than 2 million are manufactured annually. Tola gold bars, most of which are imported from Europe, are widely traded in the Middle East, India, Pakistan and Singapore.
10 tola gold bars are distinctive in two ways. They have smooth rounded edges and are an ideal size for smuggling, if necessary inside the smuggler’s body. They have no serial numbers. Round minted tola gold bars are often incorporated into jewellery, especially in Pakistan where ‘marriage necklaces’ can weigh 500 g or more. The Exhibition displays tola gold bars issued by a variety of manufacturers.
Chi gold bars
The chi is a Vietnamese unit of weight. 1 chi weighs 3.75 g. 10 chi (or 1 cay or 1 luong) weighs 37.5 g. Pamp (Switzerland) was the first among accredited manufacturers to produce a range of chi denominated minted gold bars for Vietnam. The Exhibition displays a variety of chi gold bars.
The application of an attractive decorative design to the reverse side of a standard minted gold bar has occurred only since around 1980. The manufacture of decorative minted gold bars is dominated by accredited manufacturers in Switzerland, Germany and Brazil and several are exhibited.
Pamp (Switzerland) pioneered the application of multi-coloured hologram designs to minted gold bars in 1990. These gold bars, popular in the Middle East, are now distributed worldwide and a variety of hologram gold bars are on display.
Mitsubishi (Japan) is the pioneer manufacturer of multi-coloured ‘rainbow’ gold bars. The manufacturing process combines different carat gold colour tones in order to create an infinite variety of attractive patterns. The Exhibition displays experimental gold bars, made in 1993, which illustrate ‘rainbow’, ‘woodgrain’, ‘textile’ and ‘polka dot’ patterns. The gold bar purity is 75% (18 carat).
‘Yin-Yang’ gold bars
Several unusual ‘Yin-Yang’ gold bars issued by Ishifuku (Japan) in 1993 are displayed. These two innovative ‘kidney’ shaped gold bars depict the Zen religious symbol representing the harmony of opposites.
‘Koban’ gold bars
Tokuriki Honten (Japan) has manufactured attractive ‘Koban’ gold bars since the early 1960s, ranging from 5 g to 50 g. The gold bars commemorate the oval shape of traditional Japanese gold coinage issued between the 16th and 19th centuries.
‘Twin-Coin’ gold bar
Yoo Long Kim Kee (Thailand) was the first to manufacture a decorative cast gold bar to a precise weight through injecting gold into an enclosed mould under pressure. The Exhibition displays an experimental 1 baht gold bar, described as a ‘twin-coin’ gold bar, which was manufactured in 1992.
From the 1930s until the end of the Vietnam war in 1975, unusual ‘gold leaf’ gold bars were widely manufactured in Vietnam. Their thinness makes them extremely portable, easily placed inside shoes, sewn into the lining of clothes or rolled into narrow tubes. Thousands of these gold bars, smuggled by Vietnamese refugees, were sold to gold dealers, mainly in South East Asia. The standard gold bar weighs around 15 g.
The Exhibition displays gold leaf gold bars which are on loan from the Kenneth Yeung Collection, King Fook Finance Co Ltd, Hong Kong.
Fine gold cards, pioneered by Mitsubishi (Japan) in the mid-1980s, enable multi-coloured printed designs to be applied to their smooth surfaces. Although gold cards up to 1000 g are available, the 1 g card is the most widely sold in Japan and cards issued by a variety of Japanese manufacturers are on display.
‘Bone’ gold bar
The Exhibition displays an innovative 100 g cast gold bar in an unconventional ‘bone’ shape which was manufactured by Degussa (Brazil) in 1982.
‘Gold Fillet’ gold bars, which are manufactured from thin rolled gold strips, are sometimes produced to display the official stamps of ‘400 oz’ (12.5 kg) gold bars where they are not used in the manufacture of smaller gold bars. The Exhibition displays two ‘gold fillet’ gold bars produced by Australian Gold Refineries at its Perth and Kalgoorlie refineries. They illustrate the official stamps and other markings which appear only on its London Good Delivery ‘400 oz’ gold bars.
Degussa (Germany) is recorded as the first among accredited manufacturers to have manufactured in 1978 a minted gold bar in an unconventional (hexagonal) shape and incorporating a hole to facilitate its use as a pendant. In 1984, Pamp (Switzerland) expanded the concept, pioneering the production of minted gold bars in many unusual shapes, as well as incorporating hangers. The Exhibition displays pendant gold bars by a variety of manufacturers.
In 1996, Pamp (Switzerland) launched ‘double-pendant’ gold bars in the Middle East. They are available in three weights (10 g, 7.5 g and 5 g) with two inner shapes: heart and circular and the Exhibition displays a variety of double pendant gold bars.
‘Bank’ gold bars
Many banks issue minted gold bars, marked with their own name but manufactured by an external manufacturer. In Europe and Brazil, minted ‘bank’ gold bars are widely available and a variety are on display.
Some accredited manufacturers, most notably Degussa (Germany) and Degussa (Brazil), issue minted gold bars commemorating important national or international events. The minting of ‘commemorative’ gold bars, incorporating the mark of the accredited manufacturer, is not yet widespread but a selection of commemorative gold bars are displayed.
‘Heart’ gold bars
Innovative ‘heart’ gold bars, defined as heart-shaped or incorporating a heart design, were first made by Pamp SA in 1994, the outcome of a World Gold Council initiative in Singapore. The ‘heart’ gold bars of ARY Traders (UAE), launched in 1997, have aroused much interest in UAE, Pakistan and India and the Exhibition displays ‘heart’ gold bars from both manufacturers.
Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), through its subsidiary refinery, Argor-Heraeus SA, has applied a KINEGRAM™ as a security device to the reverse of its minted gold bars since December 1993. This new gold bar is called kinegold bar? and a range of UBS kinegold bars? are shown.
KINEGRAM™ is the trade mark of the security device developed by Landis & Gyr Communications.
The Exhibition displays a remarkable range of ‘bullion watches’ pioneered by Pamp SA (Switzerland) that are designed to be traded, like bullion gold bars or coins, according to the prevailing value of their fine gold content. Launched internationally in Hong Kong in 1994, they incorporate circular dials which contain either 1 oz or � oz of 99.99% gold. They are available in more than 100 different styles and designs in 3 categories designated: ‘man’, ‘woman’ and ‘unisex’. Straps can be in gold, steel or leather.
The Exhibition displays two series of innovative gold proof gold bars with a gold purity of 99.99%, which were minted by the Singapore Mint in 1994 - ‘Balinese Girl’ (75 g), which is one of four decorative ‘Art Ingots’, and ‘$10: The Government of the Strait Settlement’(41 g), one of four decorative ingots depicting historical banknotes.
The Exhibition includes an unusual gold bar manufactured by Buan Hua Long (Thailand) which still marks its standard 5, 10 and 25 baht gold bars in bas-relief. The marks, carved into the base of the gold bar mould, are formed as soon as the molten gold is poured into the mould. This traditional method of marking cast gold bars eliminates the need for conventional marking tools: dies, punches and hammers.
One dimensional designs in full colour are now applied to decorative gold bars. In 1996, Pamp (Switzerland) issued a range of 10 g oval pendant gold bars depicting characters from Indian mythology (eg Krishna, Laxmiji) in full colour and the Exhibition displays several ‘full colour’ gold bars.
Famous cartoon characters are now being depicted on small gold bars. In 1996, Pamp (Switzerland) introduced designs from Warner Bros (eg Tweety and Bugs Bunny) and, in 1997, from Disney (eg Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck). Samples of all these gold bars are shown.
Minted ‘Brick’ gold bars
The Exhibition displays a 50 g minted gold bar, manufactured by SEMPSA (Spain) in the shape of a ‘brick’ which is unique. It is the only minted gold bar among accredited gold bar manufacturers worldwide to have tapered sides, closely resembling the shape of typical large 400 oz (12.5 kg) London Good Delivery gold bars.
‘Model’ gold bars
LG Metals Corporation (South Korea) has issued, since 1991, a traditional range of ‘model’ gold bars (average purity 99.98%) in the form of pigs (a symbol of wealth), toads (good fortune) and turtles (longevity). Denominated in ‘Dons’, a Korean unit of weight (1 ‘don’ equals 3.75 g), they are normally traded at a small premium above the gold price. ‘Model’ gold bars are especially popular among Koreans as gifts for weddings and anniversaries and the Exhibition displays an example of each.
The Exhibition displays an unusual ‘mirror’ gold bar, available in 1, 2 and 4 baht weights, which was manufactured by Yoo Long Kim Kee (Thailand) in 1989.
The smallest cast gold 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 gold bar in ounces is the � oz ‘button’ gold bar made by the Perth Mint (Australia) since 1976.
Tanaka (Japan) has manufactured the world’s smallest minted gold bars, mainly for the jewellery industry, since 1990. They weigh only 0.5 g and 0.3 g. 1 g minted gold bars, first issued by Cr�dit Suisse (Switzerland) in 1980, are manufactured by 12 accredited manufacturers worldwide, including Degussa and Heraeus.
The Exhibition displays examples of each of these gold bars as well as the world’s largest standard minted gold bars: the 20 oz and 500 g which are manufactured by Johnson Matthey (Canada).
Historical Rothschild gold bars
NM Rothschild & Sons Limited (United Kingdom) manufactured gold bars in London for more than 100 years until 1967. The Exhibition displays a 100 g gold bar which was kindly provided by Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo KK (Japan), and a 50 g gold bar provided by Dresdner Bank AG (Germany).
An official stamp on a gold 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 1878. A sample is displayed.
The Exhibition also displays the world’s oldest assay mark. In addition to an official stamp, many gold bar manufacturers apply an assay mark to the gold bar, certifying the weight and purity. Among accredited manufacturers worldwide, the oldest assay mark still in use is that of Sch�ne Edelmetaal BV (Netherlands). The same mark, depicting a mercury staff and two snakes, has been used for more than 200 years.
The Exhibition also displays a variety of the world’s leading bullion coins. For 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 Exhibition tells the story of gold from its original form as ore or nuggets and displays samples of nuggets from Australia, the USA and South Africa. 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 world’s 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).
The Exhibition also displays gold-bearing ore from a variety of countries. Almost all 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 world’s largest gold producing country, these depths can exceed 3 km.
‘Dore’ gold bars
Most major gold mines process their gold-bearing ore at the site of the mine, producing low purity ‘dore’ gold bars and the Exhibition includes samples of these rough gold bars which are sent to gold refineries for upgrading into tradeable gold bars of high purity (99.5% or more). ‘Dore’ gold bars are normally large, some weighing as much as 25 kg.
The Exhibition includes samples of ‘Garimpo’ dore gold bars which are made by ‘garimpeiros’, Brazilian peasants who mine gold independently or in small groups in the Amazon jungle. Brazil was the world’s major source of newly-mined gold in the 18th century. It still yields around 75 tonnes annually.