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. 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. Before the 19th century, most nations maintained a bimetallic monetary system, which often included gold but consisted mainly of silver. Gold is dispersed throughout the Earth's crust and has since ancient times been valued both for its scarcity and for its metallurgical properties.
Gold for dollars held by foreigners, then, in 1974, it lifted its four-decade ban on the private purchase of gold. Starting in Britain in 1821, monetary units were exchangeable for a fixed amount of gold, a change that Britain expected would stabilize its rapidly growing economy. In 1914, the restriction on gold exports at the outbreak of the First World War forced the use of inconvertible paper money. Roosevelt banned the circulation of gold coins, although gold was still used to define the value of the dollar.
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. 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. Interactive chart of historical data on the real (inflation-adjusted) prices of gold per ounce since 1915.