Interactive chart with historical data on the real (inflation-adjusted) prices of gold per gram up to 1915. Starting in 1821 in Great Britain, monetary units could be exchanged for a fixed amount of gold, a change that Britain expected would stabilize its rapidly growing economy. The only factor that is probably preventing the Gold Price Per Gram from coinciding with previous price peaks is that the overall effects of Federal Reserve inflation continue to have less and less impact. The government began to sell some of its shares in the open market and in 1978, along with most other countries, officially abandoned the gold standard. After the war, the gold standard returned, but economic growth in the 1920s surpassed gold reserves, and some countries supplemented their reserves with stable currencies such as the pound and the dollar, which, like gold, had acquired in people's minds a permanent measure of abstract value. Roosevelt banned the circulation of gold coins, although gold was still used to define the value of the dollar.
Gold is dispersed throughout the Earth's crust and has since ancient times been valued both for its scarcity and for its metallurgical properties. As the Industrial Revolution spread, other countries followed suit, and by the end of the 19th century, most industrialized nations were following the gold standard. Gold for dollars held by foreigners, then, in 1974, it lifted its four-decade ban on the private purchase of gold. In 1914, the restriction on gold exports at the outbreak of the First World War forced the use of inconvertible paper money.
Since the rise in the price of gold over time is a reflection of the continuing loss of purchasing power of the US dollar, it cannot be expected to exceed previous price peaks if adjusted for inflation. Before the 19th century, most nations maintained a bimetallic monetary system, which often included gold but consisted mainly of silver. In the United States and many other countries, currencies remained “linked to gold” until the 1970s, when the decline in global reserves marked the gold standard's last death sentence.