13th January 1404. The Noblest Element.

Gold is the most noble of metals and has from early times commanded the attention of alchemists in an attempt to transmute base metal into that precious commodity.

However medieval writers such as Piers Plowman and Chaucer were to paint unflattering pictures of alchemists as thieves and liars.

g

Gold is for ever.

Today in 1404 the Statute of Multipliers was passed into law by Henry IV as the state was concerned that ‘Alchemy Multiplication’ meant making more of certain materials which with Gold and Silver could involve ‘enrichment of sinister forces, or any force that was not currently in power’.

‘None from hereafter should use to multiply Gold and Silver or use Craft of Multiplication and if any the same do, incur the pain of felony’. The Act was not repealed until 1689.

c

An ancient alchemist at work.

However it was still possible under Henry IV to buy a licence to seek to make gold using alchemy which was also repeated under Kings Henry VI and Edward IV.

c

Calverite or Gold Telluride metallic mineral (Au Te2). This and Sylvanite are major Telluride ores of gold.

The ore in which gold occurs in a chemical composition with other elements is rare, the most notable being Calverite and Sylvanite which represent the major Telluride (from Tellurium), ores of gold.

Gold dissolves in the alkaline Sodium Cyanide (Cyanidation), and also makes an amalgam alloy of Mercury where a physical, not chemical change is involved, in other words, reversible like water and ice, or salt and water.

Gold is not impossibly scarce, has a relatively low melting point, is easily turned into coins, ingots and jewellery and does not tarnish like its competitor silver. Gold is precious because it is chemically uninteresting.

Notes:

Gold (Atomic Number 79) is resistant to most acids but dissolves in Aqua Regia (Nitric and Hydrochloric Acid), but insoluble in Nitric Acid alone which can dissolve silver and base metals.

The product formed when gold dissolves in Aqua Regia refers to Gold Chloride or Acid Gold Trichloride.

Aqua Regia confirms the presence of gold in metal objects-the Acid Test.

Gold (III) Chloride-Auric chloride (gold and chlorine) Au2 Cl6-Trichloride, empirical formula Au Cl3. The Roman Numbers shows gold has oxidation state of +3 which is common for gold compounds.

References:

motherboard.vice.com/multiplication.

history.com/philosophers-stone.Imagno/Getty.

bbc.co.uk/news. Justin Rowlatt. 8th Dec. 2013. Why do we value gold?/Pic of gold artefact.

wikipedia.org/alchemy.

A Licence to practise alchemy by Henry VI. D Geoghegan.

wikipedia.org/gold_extraction/Pic of ore.

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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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