When was Gold Most in Demand?
The Short Answer
The American Gold Rush, from 1849 to 1929, created a feverish interest in Gold supply and demand, with stories of these discoveries still popular today. While this was undoubtedly a period of significant demand, modern technology has created a level of need for Gold in the marketplace that is higher than ever before.
The prospect of finding Gold has been a mobilizing force throughout much of history. Gold has been discovered on all seven continents and has been a significant driver of many major expeditions. It serves a symbol of the potential of wealth, valued by government and religious institutions alike. While Gold supply and demand has varied dramatically over the years, the American Gold Rush is famous for creating a flurry of interest like none other.
Gold Discoveries in the American West
The passage of the Coinage Act in 1792 created a Precious Metals standard for the U.S. dollar and led the way to the global demand for Gold, especially for international transactions. A few years later, a young boy discovered a 17-pound nugget of Gold in North Carolina. While this discovery is sometimes referred to as the Carolina Gold Rush, the surrounding events were nowhere near as significant as what would later occur in the West.
The Gold Rush, referring to a series of major Precious Metals discoveries in the western United States and Canada, had a relatively short lifespan of fewer than 100 years, but it indeed created a frenzy. People from across the globe flocked to the region, driven by ambition and the desire for wealth. The California Rush, which began in 1848, was the first of its kind, capturing headlines around the world. Originating with a discovery of Gold near Sacramento, news spread quickly and people began to arrive in droves, with covered wagons and children in tow.
People who came to the U.S. in search of their fortune later migrated to discoveries in British Columbia, Nevada and Colorado. By the late 1800s, mining companies were using the widespread fascination of the Gold Rush to entice new people to come work in the mines. The western region of the U.S. was a prime spot for these resettlements as before the discovery of Gold and other Precious Metals, there was virtually no interest in the area. Colorado, Nevada and California had very little value to the government at the time and popular culture considered it a virtual wilderness. Prospectors and miners could search for Gold without interference.
Before the Gold Rush, there was little to no need to possess a passport for international travel. By the end, every developed country had made passports mandatory, in part to keep track of who might be entering a country with Gold stashed in their suitcases. It is also important to note that by 1929, every country directly affected by the Gold Rush had set up a system of personal income tax.
Gold Supply and Demand
Highly malleable and uniquely beautiful, Gold has been used to create pieces of art since it was first discovered. It was one of the first Precious Metals to be mined by humans. Because Gold is soft compared to other metals, it isn't an excellent choice for constructing tools and implements. Modern technologies, though, have created new practical uses for Gold, other than ornaments and jewelry.
Due to new-found technologies, Gold has reached a higher level of demand than ever before. In medicine, nanoparticles of Gold are a critical component of RDTs, or Rapid Diagnostic Tests, which help diagnose many chronic diseases. Some modern telescopes now incorporate minute amounts of Gold in their mirrors due to its ability to reflect infrared light. Perhaps the most notable technical use for Gold is in computers. Because it is an efficient conductor of electrical signals, Gold is used in microprocessors and memory chips.