The seemingly endless collapse of the world’s pre-eminent cryptocurrency continues, as bitcoin punched through $200 today. (As of this posting -$208.90 –click here for current quote)
The continued drop in value made the currency one of the absolute worst things to own in 2014. It remains so. Over the last 12 months bitcoin’s dollar value has fallen roughly 76%, outpacing the decline in both the beleaguered ruble (down a bit more than 70%) and Brent crude oil, which has fallen roughly 58% over the same period…MORE (qz.com)
Gold, silver, platinum and palladium are spiking after the Swiss National Bank surprisingly announced it’s scrapping its currency floor and lowering its already negative interest rate. The news hit the tape shortly before 4:40 a.m. New York time, sending gold up roughly $35 to $1261 a troy ounce.
“Gold is much stronger as the “safety” of the Swiss Fran vanishes,” commented Dave Lutz of JonesTrading…MORE (WSJ.com)
Daggers were used by the ancient Egyptians from predynastic times onwards, though examples dating from the Old Kingdom are exceedingly rare. During the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom they were generally made of copper or bronze; gold, apart from its use for purposes of embellishment, was probably reserved for royalty. Queen Ahhotpe, mother of Ahmosis I, the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty, had, in her funerary equipment, a solid gold dagger and sheath, both of which are now in the Cairo Museum. Tutankhamun’s mummy was provided with two daggers encased in gold sheaths, one with an iron blade and the other with a blade of hardened gold. It is the latter specimen which is shown here.
As an illustration of the goldsmith’s artistic ability and technical skill, this dagger, and particularly its sheath, are among the outstanding pieces of the collection. On the top of the pommel are the king’s cartouches in applied embossed gold and a wreath of lily-palmettes in cloisonne work. On the underside are two figures of falcons holding in each claw the hieroglyphic symbol for ‘eternity’ (shen)…MORE (TourEgypt.net)
Metal detector enthusiasts in Buckinghamshire have uncovered what is thought to be one of biggest hoards of ancient coins ever found in Britain.
Paul Coleman from the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club discovered more than 5,000 coins buried inside a lead bucket two feet under a field near Aylesbury.
The hoard contains specimens dating back to the 11th Century – the late Anglo Saxon, early Norman period.
The coins will now be examined by the British Museum…MORE (BBC.com)
MELBOURNE, Fla. — Years ago, underwater archaeologists lived by the motto “finders keepers” when they struck gold. Today is a different story, but that doesn’t stop them from searching.
Robert Marx of Indialantic is one such underwater archaeologist — dare not call him a treasure hunter — who enjoys sharing tales of the deep ocean blue and the world’s rich maritime history.
The author of 64 books is scheduled to lecture here next week about a 1715 Spanish shipwreck off Florida’s Sebastian Inlet.
“The 300th-year anniversary is coming up for the loss of that wreck and the whole fleet,” he said. “I want to make sure people know about it.”
That wreck has been the subject of numerous books, articles, documentaries and blogs. Capitan-General Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla and his flagship, the Capitana, contained quite the cargo: more than 3.5 million pesos in priceless treasure, specifically, the queen of Spain’s jewels. En route from Havana to Spain, 12 ships sank and their crews perished during a hurricane on July 30…MORE (FloridaToday)
John Stepek: It was the last stand of the gold bugs. And now it’s over.
On Sunday, the Swiss held a referendum on returning to the gold standard.
The ‘Save our Swiss Gold’ plan would have forced the Swiss National Bank – the central bank – to hold 20% of its reserves in gold. If that had happened, demand for gold would have surged, simply to meet the needs of the Swiss.
But in the end, 77% voted against the plan. So is it time to ditch your gold?
Not at all. It might not like being told what to do with its reserves, but like most other central banks around the world, the Swiss Central Bank still holds some gold. And you should too…MORE (moneyweek.com)
Merryn Somerset Webb: On Sunday, the population of Switzerland will decide whether they want their central bank – the Swiss National Bank (SNB) – to abide by the following rules.
It would be prevented from selling any of its gold reserves. It would have to store all those gold reserves actually in Switzerland (at the moment only about 70% is there). And it would have to make sure that at least 20% of its assets are held in gold.
Right now less than 8% of the SNB’s assets are held in gold. So raising that to 20% would mean the SNB would have to either sell some of its foreign currency reserves (to increase the proportion of its reserves held on gold), or buy a large amount of gold in pretty short order.
It would be highly unlikely to go for the former option, because this would lead the Swiss franc to strengthen, and kick off a nasty deflationary crisis as a result. (One of the reasons that the percentage of the SNB’s assets held in gold has fallen as low as 8% is because Switzerland has been frantically printing francs and using them to buy other currencies in an effort to prevent the franc from rising.)
The upshot is that if Switzerland votes ‘yes’, the SNB will buy gold over a five-year period. The gold price is likely to jump as a result – by 18%, suggests the Bank of America…MORE (moneyweek.com)
Sophie Jane Evans: A gold engagement ring from the 17th Century has been unearthed by a pensioner with a metal detector – more than 300 years after it was lost.
Tom Ross, 69, was sweeping his metal detector over a ploughed farmer’s field near Newtownabbey in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, when he stumbled across the item.
The rare ‘posy’ ring, which dates back to the late 1600s and is 85 per cent gold, bears the Old English inscription ‘I noght on gift bot gifer’, or ‘Look not on the gift, but the giver’.
Also known as a ‘betrothal’ ring, it pre-dates the custom of proposing with an engagement ring, but essentially served the same purpose.
Men and women exchanged the items from the 1500s onwards to symbolise their future commitment to each other…MORE (DailyMail.co.uk)