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Home > Education and Museum > Exhibitions and Events > Gold and the Bank of England

Gold and the Bank of England

In the year of the London Olympics, when the ultimate accolade of gold is given to the best of the world’s athletes, Gold and the Bank of England will briefly examine the part gold has played during the Bank’s long history and the Bank's role in relation to gold today.

Under its founding 1694 charter the Bank of England was given the statutory right to trade in gold and silver and has participated in the London bullion market since then. Today the Bank is the second largest gold repository in the world and London the foremost gold market.

The relationship between gold and running-cashes, the Restriction Period (1797-1821), the Gold Standard and the Bank’s relationship with the yellow metal are all considered in the exhibition. Indeed it was gold, or rather the Pitt Government’s need for it, that eventually led to the Bank being nicknamed, ‘The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’.

Amongst many and varied exhibits illustrating this remarkable history, a new one-kilo gold Jubilee coin worth £60,000 is on display alongside a 700BC Lydian coin, the earliest to contain gold.

The gold Kilo coin, produced by the Royal Mint, contains one kilo of fine gold and only 60 will be struck. Designed by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, the coin has a diameter of 100mm and depicts the Royal Coat of Arms from the gates of Buckingham Palace, as well as the Diamond Jubilee portrait of Her Majesty The Queen created for all UK 2012 Diamond Jubilee coins struck by The Royal Mint.

The coins struck in Ephesus in Lydia (now part of modern Turkey) in the 7th century BC from electrum (a naturally occurring mixture of gold and silver) are arguably the world’s first coins. They were cast in a cup-shaped mould and then stamped with a die.

Several gold bars are also on display, including Roman bars and a modern gold bar worth over £400,000 which can be handled.