Shelly Ford

By Shelly Ford
Alchemist Editor and Digital Content Manager, LBMA

Gold has fascinated mankind ever since the first nuggets were discovered in a stream bed many millennia ago.

Indeed, the Alchemist was so named to reflect one of the goals of the ancient alchemists – the discovery of the philosopher’s stone, which could turn base metals into gold.

And now, LBMA is pleased to announce that this precious metal has inspired a newly launched digital exhibition entitled ‘The Wonders of Gold’ – curated by Stewart Murray, GDL Consultant and LBMA CEO from September 1999 to December 2013.

The online exhibition – available to view at – showcases no fewer than 150 items from around the world. From the Bimaran Casket and Croesus Stater to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb and why modern-day world champions bite their gold medals, this exhibition reveals a fascinating insight into the history of gold – and hints at its future.

An Atom of Inspiration

“LBMA celebrated the centenary of the first official London gold price in September 2019,” explains Stewart. “Earlier that year, LBMA CEO Ruth Crowell had asked me to prepare an online exhibition of items that told the story of gold in a visually appealing way. I accepted with alacrity.”

Ruth and Stewart decided that to be considered for inclusion in the exhibition, an item had to be of interest, of significance and capable of being illustrated by a visually appealing image. “But there was no time limit on where I could start from,” reflects Stewart. “As a result, the earliest item in our timeline – the Birth of Gold – even predates the formation of our own solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.

Image credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration, CXC/SAO/JPL-Caltech/Steward/O. Krause et al., and NRAO/AUI

The Birth of Gold: The aftermath of the supernova known as Cassiopeia A.

“We changed the name from our original moniker ‘Centennial Online Exhibition’ to the ‘Wonders of Gold’, which we felt better reflected the truly wondrous objects and stories that can be found in so many areas of human activity. Although I have spent most of my career looking at the gold market in one way or another, I soon found that there was such a lot that I had still to discover.

“Many colleagues and old friends of the market were willing to lend a hand, either with material and images from their companies’ or their personal archives – or, in some cases, by providing the complete text for some specialist items. A page on the Wonders of Gold site thanks some of these contributors for their very generous help.”

Image credit: © The Trustees of the British Museum. Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence

The Bimaran Casket: Cylindrical reliquary casket made of gold and inset with garnets.