Worth its weight in gold!

Gold and silver were once the currency of the world. In the Middle Ages 'travellers' (traders) would visit towns and villages and would carry scales with them to weigh the silver they were paid. Small items would be paid for in copper. The original copper penny weighed 1oz, twelve of which could be exchanged for a silver shilling.

The Industrial Revolution brought with it spending power for the masses but great poverty too. Workers who could not even afford to deal in pennies would be paid in smaller copper tokens which could be spent in the factory shop or exchanged for the large copper penny. Copper was the currency of the masses, silver was the currency of the small trader, gold was the currency of property deals, imports and exports. This three tier currency system (copper, silver, gold) lasted until 1972 when Britain changed to a decimal system of coinage.

By 1972 few people remembered - or cared - that the world's economy was once based on weights of gold and silver. Silver had not been used for making circulation coins in Britain since 1946 and gold had not been used as everyday currency since the 1910s. The value of gold, (and silver) however, is still based on weight - all such items start life as molten metal and most end their life back in the melting pot, even antique items are melted if the gold value rises much above the aesthetic value. From smelter and bullion house to manufacturer and wholesaler and back to scrap merchant and smelter, all values are based upon weight. Unless, of course, the main value is in precious stones or because the item is antique and rare. These exceptions aside, it is only in the high street shop that 'fashion value' far exceeds gold value.

The most important piece of equipment for the scrap gold buyer, apart from a set of testing acids, is a set of weighing scales.

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