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War and Gold-The Bank of England, the London Gold Market and South Africa's Gold, 1914-19

Russell Ally
Journal of Southern African Studies
Vol. 17, No. 2 (Jun., 1991), pp. 221-238
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2637235
Page Count: 18
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War and Gold-The Bank of England, the London Gold Market and South Africa's Gold, 1914-19
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Abstract

The Witwatersrand gold discoveries of 1886 coincided with the transition of the world to a global monetary system based on the gold standard. The significance of South Africa's incorporation into this international monetary system as the principal supplier of its newly-mined gold has however been relatively unexplored. Based largely on Bank of England archival sources, this article attempts to show the impact that the Transvaal discoveries had on the relationship that developed between South Africa and Great Britain, which stood at the centre of the working of the international gold standard. It deals with this relationship during the First World War, and highlights the crucial importance that was attached to controlling the supply of gold from South Africa to safeguard Britain's standing in the world economy. The article also examines the tensions that arose between South Africa and Britain over the terms of the agreement that was made for the disposal of South Africa's gold during the war, and discloses the mounting pressures that the British authorities came under to change this arrangement once hostilities had ended.

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