Did you know that for more than a generation, Americans were barred from owning certain quantities of gold coins and bars? This is one of the reasons why many Americans are unfamiliar with gold as an asset class.
Currently, there are no restrictions on gold ownership. The United States' ability to recall gold is limited to times of war and requires Presidential action or an Act of Congress. No one can say with certainty if or how the government might prohibit private ownership of gold in the future. No one can say with certainty if a particular gold product would be exempt from any future prohibition.
In 1933, the United States government, by Executive Order, prohibited the private ownership of certain quantities of gold bars and coins. At that time, the United States was on the gold standard and in the depths of the Great Depression. Gold owners were paid the then-current gold standard price of approximately $20 per ounce.
In 1934, the government raised the price of gold to $35 per ounce. This effectively devalued the dollar by approximately 43% and raised the price of gold by approximately 75%. The Executive Order that banned private ownership of gold included several exceptions. One exception allowed people to own "gold coins having a recognized special value to collectors of rare and unusual coins."
The United States left the gold standard in 1971 and the Executive Order prohibiting private gold ownership was repealed in 1974. The Treasury Department at various times identified different gold coins which it considered to be of recognized special value to collectors of rare and unusual coins. These included all United States gold coins minted prior to 1933 and all foreign gold coins minted before 1959.