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FAQs

Gold & Silver

 

What is the size and shape of gold bullion?
Before 1986, bars cast in the United States generally were rectangular bricks: 7 inches long, 3 5/8 inches wide, and between 1 5/8 inches and 1 3/4 inches thick. In recent years, however, gold bars cast in the United States, as well as most bars cast overseas, have been trapezoidal in shape.

Is U.S. currency still backed by gold?
No, when the United States stopped selling gold to foreign official holders of dollars at the rate of $35 an ounce in 1971, it brought the gold exchange standard to an end. In 1973, the United States officially ended its adherence to the gold standard. Many other industrialized nations also switched from a system of fixed exchange rates to a system of floating rates. In August 1974, President Ford repealed the prohibition on the public's owning gold or engaging in gold transactions. Today, no country bans private ownership of gold.

Where can I purchase gold or silver?
You can buy or sell precious metal bullion and coins from private dealers. Check your Yellow Pages or conduct an Internet search. Federal Reserve Banks neither buy nor sell precious metals.

The U.S. Mint offers bullion through dealers nationwide. For more information, call 1-800-USA-GOLD or visit that agency's web site.


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Can I redeem my gold or silver certificate for gold or silver at a Federal Reserve Bank?
No. However, gold and silver certificates are sometimes more valuable to collectors than their face value. Check with a local coin or currency dealer in your area who can assess their worth as a collectible.

When did the United States go off the gold standard?
H.J. Res. 192, approved by President Roosevelt on June 5, 1933, provided that obligations payable in gold or specific coin or currency are contrary to public policy, and that those obligations could be discharged dollar for dollar in legal tender. After that resolution was adopted, currency of the United States could not be converted into gold by United States citizens, but the Treasury would convert dollars into gold for foreign governments as a means of maintaining stability and confidence in the dollar. Because the dollar was no longer freely convertible, one could consider that the United States was no longer on the gold standard at that time. If, however, one considers the gold standard as a monetary system in which the unit of money is backed by gold even if the monetary unit cannot be converted into gold, one could argue that the United States went off of the gold standard on August 15, 1971 when President Nixon announced that the U.S. dollar would no longer be convertible into gold in the international markets. The President was able to suspend the ability to convert the dollar into gold because there was no legal requirement that the United States exchange gold for dollars. On December 18, 1971 the President devalued the dollar, and even though the devaluation was effective immediately, only Congress could officially change the gold value of the dollar. Early in 1972, Congress passed Public Law 92- 268, which gave formal approval to the December 1971 devaluation.

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