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History of the London Gold Market Firms

Since the first 'Fix' took place on 12 September 1919, there have been five ‘seats’ at the table. Over the years, as firms have been merged, or bought and sold, the names of the members have changed. Here we give a snapshot of the composition of the London Gold market over the years, and a brief history of the five firms who came together for the first ‘Fix’ in 1919.

The London Gold Market: members, 1919

  • N M Rothschild & Sons
  • Mocatta & Goldsmid
  • Samuel Montagu & Co.
  • Pixley & Abell
  • Sharps & Wilkins

The London Gold Market: members, 1984

  • N M Rothschild & Sons Limited
  • Standard Chartered Bank (owner of Mocatta & Goldsmid)
  • The Midland Bank (owner of Samuel Montagu & Co.)
  • Kleinwort Benson Group (owner of Sharps Pixley)
  • Johnson Matthey Brothers  

The London Gold Market: members, 1996

  • N M Rothschild & Sons Limited
  • Standard Chartered Bank (owner of Mocatta Group)
  • The Midland Bank (owner of Montagu Trust, in turn owned by HSBC)
  • Deutsche Bank AG (owner of Sharps Pixley)
  • Republic-Mase Bank (Johnson Matthey Brothers being sold to Westpac Banking Corporation, the bullion banking and dealing subsidiary of Mase Westpac, in 1986, who in turn were purchased by Republic Bank, in 1993)

The London Gold Market: members, 1997

  • N M Rothschild & Sons Limited
  • Standard Chartered Bank (owner of Mocatta Group)
  • Montagu Precious Metals (owned by HSBC)
  • Deutsche Bank AG (owner of the former Sharps Pixley, now known as Sharps)
  • Republic National Bank of New York (formerly Republic-Mase Bank)

The London Gold Market: members, 2001

  • N M Rothschild & Sons Limited (sole independent survivor of original 1919 group)
  • Credit Suisse First Boston (became a member of London Gold Market Fixing Ltd. due to the merger of HSBC and Republic National Bank of New York which freed a seat)
  • Deutsche Bank AG (owner of Sharps)
  • HSBC Bank USA, London
  • Bank of Nova Scotia (owner of Scotia Mocatta, formed in 1997 by the acquisition of Mocatta bullion from Standard Chartered Bank) 

The London Gold Market: members, 2002

  • N M Rothschild & Sons Limited (sole independent survivor of original 1919 group)
  • Société Générale (replaced Credit Suisse First Boston, the first time a seat changed hands through purchase rather than merger)
  • Deutsche Bank AG (owner of Sharps)
  • HSBC Bank USA, London
  • Bank of Nova Scotia (owner of Scotia Mocatta, formed in 1997 by the acquisition of Mocatta bullion from Standard Chartered Bank) 

N M Rothschild & Sons were found in 1809, established in New Court, St Swithin’s Lane by Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836). The firm became N M Rothschild & Sons on the death of Nathan Mayer. In 1840, NMR became bullion broker to the Bank of England. In 1919, NMR became the permanent chairman of the Gold Fixing on its establishment, with the Gold fix taking place at New Court. When N M Rothschild & Sons relinquished its seat in 2004, after 85 years, its place was acquired by Barclays Capital.

Mocatta & Goldsmid had been founded in London in 1671 in Camomile Street by Moses Mocatta, moving to Mansell Street in 1677. In 1710, Abraham Mocatta was admitted as a broker on the Royal Exchange. By 1767 the firm was known as Mocatta & Keyser, with offices in Grigsby’s coffee house. In 1783, the admission of Asher Goldsmid to the firm led to its being renamed Mocatta & Goldsmid, with offices in the Bank of England. Nine generations presided over the firm, until 1976, when the death of Edward ‘Jock’ Mocatta ended active family involvement in the company. The firm, known as the Mocatta Group then became a subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank, and in 1992, a full division of Standard Chartered. In 1997, Mocatta Bullion was acquired by Bank of Nova Scotia from Standard Chartered, forming a global bullion division, Scotia Mocatta.

Samuel Montagu & Co. was founded in 1853 by Samuel Montagu and Ellis Franklin in London’s Leadenhall Street, moving to 21 Cornhill soon after. In the 1860s, the firm moved to 114 Old Broad Street, and was the only firm to combine banking and bullion broking. In 1963, Montagu Trust was formed as a holding company whose subsidiaries were Samuel Montagu & Co., Guyzeller Zurmont Bank and two insurance companies E W Payne and Bland Welch. In 1967, Montagu Trust became a subsidiary of Midland Bank, remaining relatively independent until 1985. Between 1992-1993, the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation took over Midland and Montagu Trust became part of HSBC Investment Banking Group.

Sharps & Wilkins were established in London in Great Winchester Street in 1796 by William Sharp, a broker and auctioneer. By 1807, the firm was known as Sharp & Kirkup; Kirkup left the firm in 1823, and James Sharp carried on alone for four years when he was joined by G Sharp. The firm was known as J G & G A Sharp, until 1846, when Frederick Charles Wilkins was taken into partnership and the firm became Sharp & Wilkins. The firm merged with Pixley in 1957 to become Sharps Pixley, which in turn became a wholly owned subsidiary of Kleinwort Benson in 1966. In 1993, Deutsche Bank bought Sharps Pixley from the Kleinwort Benson Group.

Pixley & Abell were founded in 1852 by Stewart Pixley, (a senior clerk in the cashier’s office at the Bank of England) in partnership with Henry Haggard (son of the principal of the Bullion Office) as Haggard & Pixley at 8 Copthall Court. In 1827 the firm moved to 27 Old Broad Street. However, the partnership was dissolved and soon after Stewart Pixley took on Henry Gilson Abell and Edward Langley to become Pixley, Abell & Langley. In 1869, Francis Barron Blake joined to form Pixley, Abell, Langley & Blake. With the retirement of Langley and Blake in 1872, the firm became Pixley and Abell. In 1957, the firm merged with Sharps to become Sharps Pixley, which ultimately was acquired by Kleinwort Benson and then Deutsche Bank.