April 19, 2018 – Since time immemorial, gold has been hoarded and traded as a valuable object. It is considered a safe haven throughout the world and, in times of uncertainty, sees a booming demand which many mints and private companies satisfy with their products for investors. But you should always keep in mind that private gold ownership is not a matter of course.
Everybody possessing gold coins in France after 1 August 1793 risked to be guillotined. In 1939 an usher in the Moscow artist theatre was executed because his coin collection had been found in a raid. Most other countries in the 20th century did not inflict such draconian a penalty for the ownership of gold, and yet, not only in the Communist East the possession of gold still was prohibited less than half a century ago.
The US President banned the ownership of gold with Executive Order 6102 in 1933.
American Ban of gold ownership
In the United States of America, a $10,000 fine or 10 years imprisonment was the punishment for all those who refused to sell their gold coins, gold bars and gold certificates to the state at the compulsory price of $20,67 a fine ounce before 1 May 1933. The only exemption was gold that was used to industrial or artistic purposes, or did not exceed the value of $100.
After the deadline, to penalise infringements, the government had all safes and lockers sealed systematically. They could only be opened in the presence of officials. Any gold found was confiscated without compensation. Most banks proved to be faithful agents of the state, preventing their clients to remove the gold from their lockers.
The American ban of gold ownership was lifted as late as 31 December 1974.
Further bans of gold ownership
1966-1971 Great Britain
You can find the exact wording of Executive Order 6102 regarding the US American ban of gold ownership on this website.
To learn more about the ban’s background read this Forbes article.
The Zurich MoneyMuseum provides a virtual mine of information on the precious metal in his contribution „Gold – Versatile and Coveted”.