ScotiaMocatta: Canada's Gold Bank

Exhibits Scotiabank 175th: Laying the Foundation

ScotiaMocatta: Canada's Gold Bank

Scotiabank's Gold Department

With more than a century of expertise in the precious metals field, The Bank of Nova Scotia was, in 1893, the first bank in Canada to import gold from London, England to Chicago, U.S.A., to relieve the stringency caused by the financial panic of that year. The Bank also offered gold loans to mining companies in Canada and around the world, as well as customer services to central banks.

Click to enlarge - Frank William Nicks, Chief Executive Officer between 1958 and 1972, on the front cover of Business Week magazine, 06 June 1964.
Frank William Nicks, Chief Executive Officer between 1958 and 1972, on the front cover of Business Week magazine, 06 June 1964.

After the Second World War, interest in gold was revived and it began to regain its traditional attraction as a store of value. In 1958, The Bank of Nova Scotia introduced a unique Gold Certificate, designed to purchase and act as a transferable receipt for gold held for safekeeping in the Bank's vaults. That year, the Bank also became the first Canadian bank to provide daily quotations for gold. The following year, The Bank of Nova Scotia introduced a new type of gold certificates. On May 14, 1959, interchangeable gold certificates were developed for fine gold to be delivered in the form of bars between London, England and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Click to enlarge
Scotiabank Gold Price List, May 1986.
Click to enlarge
The Bank of Nova Scotia gold certificate, c. 1960.

By 1981, Scotiabank's first gold-trading centre was established outside of Canada in London, England, and a year later the Bank began to offer customers the ability to buy gold and silver certificates in exact dollar amounts, another first for the Bank. Scotiabank quickly became Canada's largest gold trader, in both certificates and bullion, and with its acquisition of the Mocatta Group on 1 December 1997, Scotiabank has come to be known as "Canada's gold bank".

The Mocatta Group

ScotiaMocatta has it beginnings over 300 years ago with Moses Mocatta opening an account with one of London, England's most famous goldsmith bankers, Alderman Edward Backwell, in 1671. Originally from Portugal, the Mocatta family made its way to London, England to deal in diamonds, and to a lesser degree, gold and silver.

Upon his death in 1693, Abraham Mocatta, Moses' son, began to actively run the business. In 1710, Abraham Mocatta acquired a licensed broker's medal on the Royal Exchange and he quickly became the most prominent broker in silver. With the flood of gold being discovered and entering London during the 1720s, The Bank of England appointed Mocatta as their primary broker for the buying and selling of foreign gold, until his retirement in 1750 where he was succeeded first by his son-in-law, Moses de Mattos, and then by his grandson, Abraham de Mattos Mocatta, in 1754.

Throughout the eighteenth century, several individuals became partners in the Mocatta business including: silver and diamond dealer Alexander Isaks Keyser in 1760; Asher Goldsmid, who was married to Mocatta's daughter, in 1779; Abraham de Mattos Mocatta's sons Moses and Jacob in January 1800; as well as Asher Goldsmid's sons Issac Lyon and Aaron Asher who became dominant senior partners in 1822. During that period, the business also changed its name to reflect the new partnership that was formed between Mocatta and Goldsmid. Following the death of Keyser in 1779, the Mocatta business was newly named Mocatta & Goldsmid.

By 1840, the Bank of England concluded their exclusive relationship with the firm, opening themselves up to several brokers. In 1864, with the retirement of F.D. Goldsmid and Abraham Mocatta, the 85 year alliance between the two families was broken. At this time, an individual who was not a Mocatta or Goldsmid, Sir Hector Hay assumed leadership of the firm which maintained its original name.

Click to enlarge - Image of Edgar de Mattos Mocatta's ledger of Photostats of gold and silver coins from Spain, 1893-1937.
Image of Edgar de Mattos Mocatta's ledger of Photostats of gold and silver coins from Spain, 1893-1937.

In 1900, descendents of Mocatta and Goldsmid rejoined the partnership. By 1957, the business was acquired by the merchant bank, Hambros Bank and was renamed Mocatta & Goldsmid Limited, with Jock and Edgar Mocatta serving as managing directors. In 1969, Mocatta Metal Corporation was created in New York and through Hambros Bank, Mocatta & Goldsmid took a 50% share. The company intended to trade silver, but dealt in all natural metals.

In May 1973, due to the need for greater financial backing to accommodate the development in bullion trade around the world, the business was sold to the Standard Chartered Bank who took over Mocatta & Goldsmid, London as well as 30% interest in Mocatta Metal Corporation, New York. Also in 1973, The Commercial Metal Company Ltd. was purchased from Hambros and was renamed Mocatta Commercial (MCL). By 1975, Mocatta Hong Kong Ltd. was opened and in the fall of 1982, Mocatta Financiere S.A. in Geneva, Switzerland was opened.

The Formation of ScotiaMocatta

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ScotiaMoccatta 24k gold coin. ~ Image from the Staff Magazine, September 2006 ~

On 1 October 1997, Scotiabank, "Canada's gold bank", announced that an agreement was signed to acquire Mocatta Bullion & Base Metals from the Standard Chartered Bank. At the time of the acquisition, Mocatta had 180 employees, 10 offices around the world, a base of approximately 3000 clients, which also owned Iron Mountain, a gold and silver depository in New York State. On 1 December 1997, the acquisition was finalized and the Mocatta operations were absorbed into Scotia Capital Markets (today known as Global Banking and Markets) to form ScotiaMocatta.

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The Mocatta House in London, England, 2007. ~ Photograph taken by Michelle Mumford - Oxford England. ~
Today, ScotiaMocatta helps make Scotiabank one of the world's leading metal trading and bullion banks through key initiatives such as becoming the first Canadian bank to enter the Shanghai Gold Exchange in 2008 as well as the launch of a full-service online precious metal delivery channel on the ScotiaMocatta website ( in 2009.

View our "ScotiaMocatta" Heritage Poster.

Green, Timothy, 1984. Precious Heritage: Three Hundred years of Mocatta and Goldsmid. London, England: Rosendale Press.

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