Despite the emphasis on materialism prompting many debates about the growth of the gold industry and the outbreak of the South African War in 1899, little research has focused on the financial institutions of South Africa's early gold industry. The growth of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is woven interchangeably with that of Witwatersrand's gold industry. This article investigates why and how the Exchange came into existence, and its early interaction with southern Africa's gold-mining revolution. Using original documentation from the JSE and its landlord, the Johannesburg Estate Company, the article juxtaposes accounts of the London Stock Exchange, with South African financial developments in the last quarter of the 19th century. It describes the intentional deregulation of stock exchange listing requirements that led to the establishment of the JSE. In addition, the article outlines the JSE's organisational developments by quantifying and qualifying trends in membership numbers up until the end of the first 'Golden Boom' of 1890. The early institutional growth of the Exchange can be seen as a balancing of organisational power between the Exchange's landowner, Barney Barnato's Johannesburg Estate Company, and JSE members.