Numismatic Coin Club World Internet Numismatic Society

How Americans Lost Their Gold
In 1933

by Spencer Guiley, WINS#398
March 4, 2005

In 1933 Americans lost more than 14,000 tons of gold! In order to understand how that we (Americans) lost 37,822,222+ pounds of gold we must start at the the begining.

The problem begins in 1933-1934 when FDR was president for his first term. This is an important era to understand. It is of greater importance still, because history tends to repeat itself. Let’s start off the story with a part of FDR’s speech followed by a quote from his actual confiscation announcement.


"The rulers of money have torn down the dollar……Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leaderships, they have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish"

Confiscation Announcement

By virtue of the authority vested in me by section 5(b), of the act of October 6,1917, (Trading with the Enemies Act of WW I) as amended by Section 2 of the act of March 9, 1933………., I Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do declare that a period of national emergency still continues to exist and pursuant to said section do hereby prohibit the hoarding of gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States by individuals, partnerships, associations, and corporations…"

"All persons are required to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, to a Federal Reserve Bank or branch or agency thereof or to any member bank of the Federal Reserve system all gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates now owned by them or coming into their ownership on or before April 28, 1933………….. Until otherwise ordered, any person becoming the owner of any gold coin, bullion, or gold certificates after April 28, 1933 shall within three days after receipt thereof, deliver same in the manner described………"

What did President FDR do?

  1. He closed all banks to prevent a run on them by depositors and to allow the government time to make some "plans".

  2. In 1933 he stopped the minting of legal US gold coins, which began in 1795, and it did not start back up until 1984-for a total of 51 years lost.

  3. He initiated what was, and maybe still is the largest redistribution of wealth in US history. When he was elected, the official price of gold was $20/ounce. By 1934 the official price was revalued to $35/ounce, an increase of 75%, or in other words FDR devalued the dollar by 40% overnight! Only the wealthy insiders escaped this, they were forewarned and sent millions of BU $20 pieces to safe storage in Europe. Otherwise, gold would be much rarer than it is today.

  4. There was no law "on the books" which allowed the President to confiscate gold in 1933. He also lacked the "dictatorial" powers to on his own change the law, but he and his advisors decided to take WWII, "Trading with Enemies Act" and twist it into a law which would allow him to submit a bill to Congress granting almost complete control over the private ownership of gold. The bill was submitted to Congress and passed in 40 minutes without relevant discussion and almost without anyone reading it.

    (A) As of April 5, 1933 all US legal tender gold coins and gold backed notes had to be turned in immediately. Penalties included a then enormous sum of $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to 10 years and possibly seizure of the asset. This also applied to US corporations and their gold holdings both here and abroad.

    (B) All other forms of gold had to be turned in, such as gold bullion.

    (C) Exceptions: The major exemption included the "holders of rare or unusual gold coins" jewelry manufactures, dentists and legitimate research applications. In time, the term "rare or unusual coin came to mean" that a collector could own one of each and every pre-1934 U.S. gold coins. This was an incredible exemption as one U.S. gold coin sold in 1990 brought $1,500,000. Since then, the government has technically abandoned this position and allowed us to own any gold coins struck before 1934 with the protection of the same laws that allow for confiscation.

  5. FDR ordered the closing of all US gold mines in’42 (Executive Order L-208) because he thought that it was more important for us to mine copper than gold. This was one of the worst blunders in the history of the USA.

    (A) American’s 9,000 gold mines needed constant care and maintenance. The mines start to flood unless they are routinely pumped. After all, they are merely large holes in the ground. The timbers start to rot and any equipment not removed becomes useless, depriving the American people of gold.

    (B) The equipment needed to work gold mines is expensive and much of it was sold due to the facts described above. History shows that not only did FDR agree to give all of Eastern Europe to the Russians but most of our gold mining equipment was sold to them and used to mine gold AND uranium for their A-Bombs. It is a wonder this nation has survived such colossal blunders.

    (C) After the end of WWII, U.S. gold mine owners/operators asked our government to loan them money to re-open their mines. They were all turned away. Although it was official U.S. policy to make war reparation claims all over the world after WWII our government refused to pay $1.00 in damages to any of the owners of the 9,000 mines that FDR ordered closed. That is a disgrace!


FDR closed the banks to prevent a run on them. He stopped the minting of US gold coins. He confiscated most of the privately owned gold and forced the banks to turn in many millions of gold coins to be melted into 400 oz bars. He closed all 9,000 of our gold mines BUT…FDR LEFT THE GOLD WINDOW OPEN FOR ANY OTHER COUNTRY TO BUY GOLD AT $35/OUNCE, Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson also allowed other countries to plunder our gold reserves until our holdings were worth less than what other countries had of OUR money.

This was not too new to us. In 1820’s and 1830’s we allowed the French to buy US gold at face value even though at times the gold they contained was worth more than the coin’s face value. They simply took US gold coins back to France and melted them retaining the profit. Like buying a quarter for $0.10.

This is bad because gold could again be confiscated under laws dating back to 1934.

If people understood the value of money today, there would be a revolution overnight!


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