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.”

Watch This Space

“I cannot claim that the items in the exhibition provide a comprehensive history of gold,” continues Stewart. “But I hope it represents a good starting point. I plan to build on the exhibition over the coming months and I hope that visitors to the Wonders of Gold site may be inspired to suggest new exhibits, perhaps based on their own collections or memories.

“It has really been a privilege as well as a pleasure for me to put together this collection and I am eagerly anticipating the reopening of various archives temporarily closed by the COVID-19 pandemic to help me fill in some of the gaps in the story so far.” If you’d like to get in touch with Stewart to give feedback or suggest new exhibits, you can contact him at:

Stewart Murray set up Gold Fields Mineral Services (GFMS) in 1989, where he served as Chief Executive for the next nine years. Stewart’s involvement with the World Bureau of Metal Statistics spans 20 years, during which time he was Chairman from 1989 to 1991.

As Chief Executive of the London Bullion Market Association, appointed in 1999, Stewart introduced many developments to the Association’s Good Delivery system – widely regarded as its ‘crown jewels.’

Upon retirement from this role in 2013, Stewart established the precious metals consultancy London Precious Metal Services Ltd, and continues to advise LBMA on Good Delivery in a consultancy capacity.