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
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repealed the prohibition on the public's owning gold or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,
1-800-USA-GOLD or visit that agency's web
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