Gold Bullion Vault – Periodic Table of Videos

In some ways, I think it’s quite disappointing seeing these bars because the gold is an exciting element it has interesting chemistry and it’s just sitting here doing nothing. It’s enormously impressive, but it’s a bit sad rather like a mausoleum where the the dead gold is sitting, waiting for people to remember it. It could be doing exciting reactions and so on. We’re in the vault, the bullion vault at the Bank of England. I’ve never seen so much gold. In fact I’ve never seen so much of any element. So we’re standing here and each shelf here has got a tonne of gold. which is worth 35 million pounds at today’s price. Tomorrow it might be worth even more. It’s very secure; we’ve been through a whole series of security checks. No money’s allowed here, to make sure we don’t take anything out. And so we’re both really excited to be here so the camera may be shaking with Brady’s excitement. I’ve never seen large lumps of gold and to see it all ’round is extraordinary. One’s first reaction is that it can’t possibly be real because normally you don’t see such things. Looks like chocolates in the duty free at the airport or something like that. But these really are solid gold bars and it’s quite extraordinary. There isn’t any smell because metals don’t smell and it’s very quiet because of the thick walls to keep it secure. The weather’s been very cold recently and I was ready to be shivering but it’s nice and warm. But I suppose gold colour also gives you a feeling of warmth so it may be partly psychological. The reason why the bank has got this store is because not only the Bank of England but other central banks like to keep some of their money reserves in gold because the price of gold is very stable or the value of gold compared to the value of currencies which can go up and down. And so, every country has a certain proportion of its reserves in gold and if you look at the statistics, the UK at the moment has about 310 tonnes of gold in its reserves But there’s much more gold here than that because it belongs to all sorts of people, not just to the Bank of England This vault is part of a complex of different rooms. I haven’t seen the other rooms but altogether if you look at the bank’s annual report it’s worth 197 billion pounds. That is 197 thousand million pounds. And that’s quite the serious sum of money. They, people buy and sell the gold and each block of gold has its own number like your car has a registration number. And when people buy and trade the gold they don’t actually take the bar home but just that number is transferred from the seller’s account to the buyer’s account and the gold just sits here quietly. Apparently the oldest bar of gold here has been here since 1916. That’s the First World War, nearly 100 years ago. But the beauty of gold a chemical element is that it’s very unreactive So it looks just the same now as it did in 1916. It’s hasn’t tarnished. It hasn’t got oxide layers on the surface. It’s hasn’t started creeping, changing its shape and so on. So come over here because they’ve given me two bars that we can look at. So we’ve got two different bars of gold which are both the so-called ‘London Good Delivery’ bars which means that their weight is in a certain limit range. And in fact each of them has its precise weight put on them in a rather strange unit called a Troy ounce So this one is 399.100 This one was made in Australia. And this one apparently came from Switzerland and is slightly heavier: 400.075 I must say this one looks much nicer. It’s polished more and this one looks a bit like a loaf of bread but is a rather miserable loaf of bread. but a pretty fantastic lump of gold. Now one of the things you know about gold is that it’s really heavy so I’m going to see whether I can actually lift this with one hand. And I can sort of lift it but not easily. Two hands is quite easy. So this weighs, each of these in more understandable units, weighs something like 12.4 kilos or 28 pounds. So for those of you who use imperial units, that’s two stone Each of these is worth about 435 thousand pounds. You could buy two quite nice houses for a block like this. Or for a whole shelf of these, which contains a tonne you could buy 137 of the upmarket Rolls Royce cars so take your choice. These blocks are a bit like bricks and if you took all the gold that had ever been mined and put them together like a construction kit to make a big block you would end up with a block that was 20 metres cubed. That’s 60 feet on each side. Which would easily fit, for example, under the legs of the Eiffel Tower. It woudln’t look all that big just as a building on the street. And that’s all the gold there ever has been. I did a little calculation on the way here that I weigh about the same as six of these bars of gold which means that if I were worth my weight in gold I’d be worth a bit over two and a half million pounds. I was a bit disappointed. Thought I might be worth more, but still… So not only would all the gold ever mined fit here under the legs of the Eiffel Tower it’d fit here quite easily. By my reckoning that cube of about 20 metres in each direction would probably fit three times from there to over there. Same for each side. And you could probably stack it on top a few times as well. So not that much gold. Now we actually filmed a bit more in the vault we haven’t used. So stay tuned, we might use that soon. In the meantime we’ve made plenty of other films about gold. We’ve evaporated it, we’ve dissolved it. You can check them out also.

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