Since early civilizations, gold has been the ultimate symbol of beauty, wealth, immortality, and power in many cultures throughout the world.
Even before it was used as money, gold was valued. The rulers and elite of the world turned it into objects of worship and created shrines, idols, vessels of all types, and jewelry. Today, as in ancient times, the intrinsic value of gold has the same universal appeal.
Gold's beauty, scarcity, unique density, and the ease by which it could be melted, formed, and measured made it a natural trading medium. Gold gave rise to the concept of money itself: portable, private, and permanent. Gold (and silver) in standardized coins eventually replaced barter arrangements, and gold was first used as money around 560 B.C.
Executive Order 6102 signed on April 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt prohibited the "hoarding" of gold, and limited any person from owning more than five ounces. Holders of significant quantities of gold were forced to sell their gold to the government in exchange for paper currency at the prevailing price of $20.67 per ounce. Shortly after this forced sale, the price of gold from the Treasury for International Transactions was raised to $35 an ounce. The U.S. government thereby devalued the dollars (which it had just forced citizens to accept in exchange for their gold) by 41% of its former value. It is estimated that only 1% of the coins in existence at that time survived the massive meltdown.
The government held the $35 per ounce price until August 15, 1971, when President Richard Nixon announced that the United States would no longer convert dollars to gold at a fixed value, thus abandoning the gold standard.