Happy April! Not only does this month usher in the true beginning of spring, but reminds us of one of our favorite national holidays from our childhood… April Fool’s Day. And what is a better way to honor this small little holiday than talking about something we have all heard of: pyrite.
Pyrite, which is better known as “fool’s gold,” got its nickname for its close, almost identical semblance to real, actual gold. Therefore, calling it fool’s gold was the perfect name, especially in the context in which the name was given. Here is just a bit of American history for you today!
When the United States sought to expand into Western territory in the mid 1800’s, one of the most important reasons that men and women flocked out west in the thousands was due to the idea that there was a copious amount of gold in modern day California. Not only would this provide a legitimate reason to settle in Western territories, but many believed that upon finding gold, they would hit the jackpot and become wealthy overnight.
This “American dream” of old was definitely a reality for some, as many did strike legitimate gold, but was not the case for others.
Gold mines were quickly established, and business owners hired hundreds of men to sift through rivers and explore new lands in order to find the valuable mineral.
And quite frequently, many of the miners and workers who thought they had found gold would have to test whether or not it was real. The method of determining real from fool’s gold was actually quite simple, and did not involve any scientific experiment.
While some workers relied on biting down on the stone with their teeth, others strike the mineral with other stones in the area, actual gold, and hammers, to see whether or not the mineral they were carrying was real or not.
Fool’s gold is malleable, meaning that when struck by a hard substance, it has the ability to change shape. And when the workers found that fool’s gold was quite common, they would go back to sifting through another one of their loads until they found what they were looking for.