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Book: The Alchemy of Paint

Chapter: Gold: The Riches of the Unknown

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.45923


Gold owes its current status entirely to the traditional world. And appreciating gold’s value requires all the science and mythology we have covered so far, together with a review of its trade, which was very different from trade in equally prized things like Tyrian purple or Polish cochineal. In addition to the numerous natural sources of gold, gold was also recycled and synthesised. Because of its diverse origins, artists and craftsmen needed to check the quality of gold and to purify it if necessary. This chapter explains the origins of gold and looks at how it was tested and prepared.

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