What Is Nordic Gold?

Like many parts of Scandinavian culture, Nordic Gold’s history dates back many centuries, which is now one of the most common materials in the world.

And while it has a rich and fascinating history, the material is used to make the coins used in today’s financial system.

Nordic Gold is a copper alloy famous for its gold-colored coating that comprises 89% copper, 5% aluminum, 5% zinc, and 1% tin.

Today, the material is developed by many Nordic nations and is commonly used to make European Union, Swedish, and Polish coins.

Scandinavians have similar but slightly different uses for Nordic Gold, and the rest of this article will explain these uses.

It will also explore the history of the material, why it’s so common, and how its purity compares to similar materials.

Also, see 250 Female Nordic Names to learn more.

What Do Scandinavians Use Nordic Gold For?

Scandinavian countries use the Krone, or Krona, for their lower denomination currencies, which is a legal tender in these regions that comes in 1, 2, 5, 10, and 25 denominations.

Nordic Gold is one of the most commonly used materials in creating these currencies today.

Sometimes known as “crowns,” these copper alloy coins are also used in countries like the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

And while the Krona is now a common and acceptable tender in the Scandinavian monetary system, it wasn’t always that way.

In fact, the Reichsthaler was the currency used by most of Scandinavia up until the 19th century.

However, this currency fell out of favor following the formation of the Scandinavian Monetary Union in 1873 by Denmark and Sweden, with Norway joining two years later [1].

These nations share more than an economic system – they have intertwined histories and myths, too [2].

Nordic Gold is more than just currency, as the material is a part of a rich and proud culture for many Scandinavians.

Therefore, lots of Scandinavians also use it to make souvenir coins.

How Much Gold Is In Nordic Gold?

Mariann Sundberg was the first to make Nordic Gold as it’s known today. She developed it while working for a Finnish stainless steel company, Outokumpu.

However, several variations of the material have popped up throughout Scandinavian and European history.

There is no gold in Nordic Gold. Instead, the material is covered in a brilliant gold coating that gives it its sheen and name.

Nordic Gold is composed of 89% copper, 5% aluminum, 5% zinc, and 1% tin. 

It shares many characteristics with brass. For example, both metals are corrosion-resistant and incredibly tough.

And despite its high copper composition, many experts still consider Nordic Gold a safe alloy. 

In other words, the material doesn’t contain toxic substances like lead, which can be dangerous to humans and animals after prolonged exposure.

Nordic Gold’s success is primarily due to how cheap it is to produce. The material was a cheaper yet suitable substitute to gold but with all the latter’s desirable features.

Therefore, most Scandinavian countries opted to use Nordic Gold as currency instead.

How Pure Is Nordic Gold?

One of the most commonly asked questions about Nordic Gold is its purity. However, this question typically arises because people confuse the material for regular gold.

Still, it’s an essential question to answer to understand what exactly Nordic Gold is.

Nordic Gold is not pure since it’s an alloy. It contains various compounds, including aluminum, zinc, tin, and copper.

However, the material’s impure nature makes it an inexpensive substitute for gold, which is why it is highly valued in Scandinavian countries.

Nordic Gold’s popularity goes beyond Scandinavian countries and into parts of Europe, where it is also a popular metal for European currencies.

Why Is Nordic Gold So Commonly Used Today?

Nordic Gold’s similarities to gold and its value compared to the material were more than enough reasons for it to become commonplace. However, there’s more to Nordic Gold than just its inexpensiveness that makes it popular.

It’s Non-Allergenic

Today’s coins need to be allergen-free to prevent various medical issues. The Nordic Gold alloy mixture satisfies this requirement since it cannot trigger allergic reactions in humans or animals.

Nordic Gold consists mainly of copper, which is a hypoallergenic metal [3].

It Has Antimicrobial Properties

According to a highly-detailed study conducted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), coins made from Nordic Gold are the cleanest, most resilient, and sturdy currency items in circulation.

In comparison, banknotes are known hotspots for many disease-causing germs [4].

But what gives Nordic Gold its antimicrobial properties?

Studies have shown that most common bacteria can’t survive on these gold-coated alloys because of the coin’s components.

The alloy is naturally toxic to many microorganisms and will inhibit several life-sustaining processes when it comes in contact with them.

The study further explained that bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella Enteritis, which are two of the most common bacteria today, typically die moments after coming into contact with Nordic Gold.

However, this phenomenon has also been noticed in metal alloys with similar compositions.

Fungi also have a hard time growing on this alloy. Like bacteria, you can find traces of fungal microbes on banknotes, which can damage the cotton material or spread infections.

Fortunately, metal coins, such as Nordic Gold coins, do not have this problem. They have significant antimycotic properties.

Ultimately, this antimicrobial property is a useful feature for currencies since they stay in circulation for extended periods.

It Is Durable

While banknotes have become the most easily recognizable physical legal tender today, they still have drawbacks.

Most banknotes are made of cotton paper, a material that’s no match for the hustle and bustle of the 21st century.

However, metal alloy currencies help combat this problem. In fact, Nordic Gold has endured for most of Scandinavian history because of its high damage resistance.

It’s hard to destroy Nordic Gold, as it requires extreme temperatures to bend, deform or melt.

It also takes a long time for Nordic Gold to tarnish.

So while all objects undergo oxidation when exposed to the elements, it takes far longer for the effects to become evident on Nordic Gold coins.

Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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