Excerpts from The New World of Gold, by Timothy Green, published in 1981:
When Napoleon escaped from Elba in 1815 and was back in France raising an army, the price of gold in the London market jumped overnight from 4.6.6d an ounce to 5.7.0d. ‘There was an extraordinary demand,’ a partner in Mocotta and Goldsmid, the London bullion house admitted. The big buyer was Nathan Mayer Rothschild, under orders from the British Treasury to dispatch gold quickly to the Duke of Wellington. Not until Wellington finally defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo did the gold price simmer down….
For over 6,000 years men – and women – have fought for it, died for it, cheated for it, slaved for it. ‘Get gold,’ wrote King Ferdinand of Spain to his men in South America in 1511, ‘humanely if you can, but at all hazards get gold.…’
The civilizations of ancient Egypt and Rome were nourished by gold, wrestled from mines in conditions of unbelievable misery.…
As a gold dealer in Southeast Asia, busy selling bars to Chinese caught in racial strife in Indonesia put it, ‘Gold takes no account of race, religion, culture, or politics….”
What John Maynard Keynes called ‘this barbarous relic’ still clings tenaciously to men’s hearts. It remains the only universally accepted medium of exchange, the ultimate currency by which one nation, whether capitalist or communist, settles its debts with another.
‘You have to choose,’ wrote George Bernard Shaw, ‘between trusting the natural stability of gold and the honesty and intelligence of members of the government. And, with due respect for these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.’