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Fort Knox: Gold Bullion Depository and Asset of the United States

Fort Knox

Fun Facts About Fort Knox

  • On June 28th, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized construction of the federal bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky
  • Amount of present gold holdings: 147.3 million ounces.
  • The only gold removed has been very small quantities used to test the purity of gold during regularly scheduled audits. Except for these samples, no gold has been transferred to or from the Depository for many years.
  • The gold is held as an asset of the United States at book value of $42.22 per ounce.
  • The Depository opened in 1937; the first gold was moved to the depository in January that year.
  • Highest gold holdings this century: 649.6 million ounces (December 31, 1941).
  • Size of a standard gold bar: 7 inches x 3 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 3/4 inches.
  • Weight of a standard gold bar: approximately 400 ounces or 27.5 pounds.
  • Construction of the depository:
    Building materials used included 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 4,200 cubic yards of concrete, 750 tons of reinforcing steel, and 670 tons of structural steel.
    The cost of construction was $560,000 and the building was completed in December 1936.
  • In the past, the Depository has stored the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, three volumes of the Gutenberg Bible, and Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
  • In addition to gold bullion, the Mint has stored valuable items for other government agencies. The Magna Carta was once stored there. The crown, sword, scepter, orb, and cape of St. Stephen, King of Hungary also were stored at the Depository, before being returned to the government of Hungary in 1978.
  • The Depository is a classified facility. No visitors are permitted, and no exceptions are made.

 

Special thanks to www.usmint.gov 

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Stonehenge: Ancient Monument, Astronomical Observatory or Something Else?

The Rock Pillars of Stonehenge

The Rock Pillars of Stonehenge

 

Fun Facts About Stonehenge

 

  • Stonehenge is located on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England – about 137 kilometers Southwest of London.
  • The origins of the name Stonehenge is taken from the combination of ‘stone’ and ‘henge’, a tribute to the biggest henge in Britain.
  • Though there is no specific evidence about who built the Stonehenge. It is believed that Druids, Greeks, or Atlanteans might have built the Stonehenge.
  • Stonehenge was constructed somewhere between 3100 – 1100 BCE.
  • On September 21st, 1915, C.H. Chubb purchased Stonehenge for 6,600 pounds
  • Stonehenge and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 and is also legally protected by the Scheduled Ancient Monument.
  • Stonehenge is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.
  • The circle was aligned with the midsummer sunrise, the midwinter sunset, and the most southerly rising and northerly setting of the moon.
  • The builders of Stonehenge have featured it in a way that it encompasses sophisticated mathematical and geometrical understandings of the framework and the structural engineering of the construction.
  • Stonehenge has a henge, or a ditch and bank, which surround the large stone circle.
  • The stones of Stonehenge were placed in such a way that they increase in size towards the centre and alternate in shape between tall, thin pillar-like stones and stones of a tapering obelisk shape.
  • Two types of stone were used for the construction of Stonehenge- the ‘bluestones’ which weighed almost four tons and were brought from 240 miles away. The other type of stone used was the ‘Sarsen’ stones which had a height of about eighteen feet and weighed twenty-five tons.
  • It is anticipated that more than thirty million hours of labor was required for the construction of Stonehenge.
  • Stonehenge is the most well known among the nine hundred stone rings which exists in the British Isles.
  • Most archaeologists believed that Stonehenge’s use had been limited to the ritual activities of different Neolithic chiefdoms before 1950. However, its use as an astronomical observatory was an equally important function of the Stonehenge.
Special thanks to www.iloveindia.com

 

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The Cullinan Diamond: The Sparkle in the English Crown Jewels and More

The Cullinan I, a.k.a. the "Star of Africa"

The Cullinan I, a.k.a. the "Star of Africa"

Fun Facts About the Cullinan Diamond

 

  • Sir Thomas Cullinan holding the rough, pre-cut diamond

    Sir Thomas Cullinan holding the rough, pre-cut diamond

    The giant Cullinan is one of the most famous and the largest diamond in the world. The Cullinan weighed a massive 3,106 carats as a rough diamond crystal. The rough diamond was 10 cm long, 6 cm high and 5 cm thick.

  • The Cullinan Diamond was named after Thomas Cullinan (later Sir Thomas) who was a South African businessman. Thomas Cullinan was a successful Johannesburg building contractor and amateur geologist. Thomas became interested in the area because of the alluvial diamonds that were being found in nearby stream.
  • The Cullinan diamond was discovered at the Premier Diamond Mine in 1905. Mr. Frederick Wells, the superintendent of the Premier Mine found the crystal when he was making a routine inspection of the mine, eighteen feet below the ground. Frederick Wells received 3,500 pounds as a reward.
  • The Cullinan was sold to the Transvaal government for £150,000 who presented it to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday on November 9th, 1907.
  • King Edward VII entrusted Abraham and Joseph Asscher, of the famous Royal Asscher Diamond Company in Amsterdam, with cutting the giant stone which was finally finished in 1908.
  • The Asscher brothers studied the giant sized rough diamond for three months before making the final decision of where the diamond should be cut.
  • Joseph Asscher preparing to cut the Cullinan Diamond

    Joseph Asscher preparing to cut the Cullinan Diamond

    On February 10, 1908 Joseph Asscher prepared himself for the greatest responsibility of his life – the cleaving of the giant Cullinan rough diamond. The tension, pressure and stress on Joseph Asscher can hardly be imagined. He was responsible for cutting the biggest and most expensive diamond in the world and a mistake in this task would, literally, cost a fortune.

  • Joseph Asscher placed the cleaving blade at the prearranged point of the diamond and struck the blade with his hammer. To his horror the cleaving blade broke. Thankfully, the diamond was unharmed. A special, extra large, cleaving blade was obtained. The second attempt was understandably even more tense than the first. Failure was unthinkable. Joseph Asscher struck the rough diamond again but this time it split perfectly into three large sections. These sections were closely studied and then divided into nine principal diamonds and approximately 100 smaller ones.
  • Imperial State Crown

    Imperial State Crown

    The nine principal diamonds today are found in either in the British Regalia, the English Crown Jewels, or in the personal possession of the British Royal Family.

  • After cutting the giant rough Cullinan diamond the following stones were created each being given different numbers according to their diminishing weights. Facts and information about each of the diamonds are listed below together with details of their current mountings:
    • The Cullinan I aka “the Star of Africa” cut into a pear shape and weighing 530.20 carats is set in the Royal Sceptre
    • The Cullinan II in the center-front of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain was cut into a cushion shape and weighing 317.40 carats is mounted in the band of the Imperial State Crown
    • The Cullinan III (bottom) and Cullinan IV (top)

      The Cullinan III (bottom) and Cullinan IV (top)

      The Cullinan III is cut into a pear shape and weighing 94.40 carats is mounted in the finial (an ornament projecting as a round or oval shape ) of Queen Mary’s Crown. It can also be worn as a pendant-brooch

    • The Cullinan IV is set in the band of Queen Mary’s crown after being cut into a square cushion shape and weighing 63.60 carats. It can also be worn as a pendant-brooch
    • The Cullinan V was originally mounted in a brooch for Queen Mary but now used as a replacement for the Koh-i-Noor diamond which was used in a new crown made for Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother) in 1937. It was cut into a heart shape and weighs 18.50 carats
    • The Cullinan VI is set in a diamond and emerald necklace was cut into a marquise shape and weighing 11.50 carats
    • The Cullinan VII is mounted as a pendant drop on a diamond brooch, cut into a marquise shape and weighing 8.80 carats
    • The Cullinan VIII was cut into a rectangular cushion and weighing 6.80 carats. It is mounted as the centre diamond on the same brooch as the Cullinan VII
    • The Cullinan IX

      The Cullinan IX

      The Cullinan IX was cut into a pear shape, weighing 4.39 carats and set in a ring.

  • The Premier Diamond mine in South Africa, where the Cullinan diamond was found, is situated on an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe. The pipe is a carrot-shaped volcanic neck originating from great depths within the Earth and is the largest in South Africa.
  • Diamonds are formed when extreme heat and extreme pressure cause carbon atoms to crystallize forming diamonds approximately ninety miles under the earth’s surface. Diamonds reach the surface of the earth via volcanic pipes, or channels.

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