Rheingold (gold washing)

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The mining of Rheingold near Karlsruhe (around 1825)

Rheingold refers to the gold that used to be washed in the river Rhine and is still partly washed.


Already the Celts washed gold for rainbow bowls from the deposits on the Rhine, later Romans and Teutons. The yields reached their peak during the work to straighten the Rhine due to the extensive relocations that this triggered: in 1831, five kilograms of Rhine gold were delivered in Baden 13 and in the Bavarian Palatinate. According to the Baden census of 1838, there were 400 gold washers on the right bank of the Rhine. There was an obligation to deliver, but because of the low remuneration compared to market prices, historians expect considerable black market trading and a total profit of three times the delivery. However, the completion of the Rhine regulation also ended the flood-related relocations. The loss of importance of the by-product sand for writing purposes was added. The gold panning in the Rhine came to a standstill: in Bavaria just 56 grams were delivered in 1860, and 90 grams for the last time in Baden in 1874.

From the history of the use of the Rhine, the extraction of gold from the sand of the Rhine for minting Rhine gold ducats was of particular numismatic importance. They can be recognized by the legend such as EX AURO RHENI (= from the gold of the Rhine) or SIC FULGENT LITTORA RHENI (= this is how the banks of the Rhine shine). The last were minted in 1863

In 1863 the Bavarian state gave up its gold shelf . The last gold washer was Johann Ganninger, who worked at Speyer and Philippsburg . Normally, four tons of sand were washed in nine hours a day and yielded one gram of gold. Johann Ganninger's wash bench with all its accessories is kept in the Palatinate History Museum in Speyer.


The Rhine gold reaches the Upper Rhine through weathering of the basement of the southern Black Forest and the Alps from deposits of mountain gold with approx. 96% gold and 4% silver . The main part of the entry is via the Kleine Emme through the Aare and Reuss . Aaregold was washed at Klingnau , among others . Washing out on the Rhine was only worthwhile from the mouth of the Aare to Koblenz AG near Waldshut-Tiengen . As the flow rate decreases, initially larger gold particles and finally gold flakes settle again in the river gravel . In the Upper Rhine, gold contents of 0.1 to 20 milligrams per cubic meter of Rhine gravel are therefore available until the breakthrough through the Rhenish Slate Mountains .


The economic extraction of this gold as a by-product of gravel sand mining is difficult and was first attempted unsuccessfully from 1939 to 1943 with the Rheingold gold excavator . It is currently being extracted in the Rheinzabern gravel plant owned by the Holcim Group. Due to the special marketing as Rheingold or, based on the purely physical extraction process, as eco-gold , a price can be achieved that is twice the usual market price. The Rheinzaberner gravel works is the only official gold producer in Germany.

Up until the straightening of the Rhine, carried out by Johann Gottfried Tulla from 1817 to 1866 , the gold accumulated again and again after flood events in river soaps with a maximum thickness of ten to 20 centimeters and an area of ​​200 to 300 square meters, where it was approximately a thousand times higher than 0.25 0.45 grams per ton was economically recoverable by panning for gold . The most productive soaps were made after moderate, slowly flowing floods.

Today the weight of the Rheingold tinsel averages 0.006 milligrams, so that around 165,000 pieces would yield a full gram. But there are also granular, platy and wire-like particles up to 10 milligrams, so-called "coarse gold". Occasionally there are small gold particles of around 2.3 milligrams. In 1849 a piece of rubble was found in the area of ​​the Ill near Strasbourg , consisting of quartz, roughly the shape and size of a hen's egg, which contained 17 grams of gold. The place name of Goldscheuer still reminds of the gold panning.


Individual evidence

  1. Blackbourn, Conquest of Nature , p. 132.
  2. Paul Arnold, Harald Küthmann, Dirk Steinhilber: Large German coin catalog from 1800 to today , Augsburg 1997: p. 65, Bavaria, No. 144, Rhine gold ducats from 1863 (last Rhine gold ducat from Bavaria)
  3. Wolfgang Kauer: Four tons of sand moved for one gram of gold , in Die Rheinpfalz of August 21, 2009, 02 LSPE
  4. Christoph Seidler: Treasure hunters raise the Rhine gold . Spiegel Online, 23 August 2012. Retrieved the same day.
  5. David Blackbourn : The Conquest of Nature. A history of the German landscape. DVA, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-421-05958-1 , p. 130.
  6. ^ Franz Kirchheimer: Das Rheingold. In: Der Aufschluss Heft 7/8, 1969 found here http://www.goldsucher.de/europa/deutschland/rheingold/index.html ( Memento from January 9, 2010 in the Internet Archive )

Web links

Wiktionary: Rheingold  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations