What 40 Years Of Gold Confiscation By The US Government Looks Like

Tyler Durden's picture

The chart below, which is a time series showing the total "Gold Held by the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve" (which for all intents and purposes are interchangeable), demonstrates vividly the moment when the US government enacted Executive Order 6102, aka the "forbidding the Hoarding of Gold Coin, Gold Bullion, and Gold Certificates within the continental United States" order which criminalized the possession of monetary gold "by any individual, partnership, association or corporation." But not the government of course. Spot the moment after which gold confiscation by the US government (also known as USD devaluation) from its citizens was legalized.

The actual April 5, 1933 order, which in the coming years will make a repeat appearance with absolute certainty, is below.

What was the point of Executive Order 6102? It was two fold.

  • First, in order to make the confiscation legitimate, the US government required the delivery of all gold coin, bullion, and certificates to be concluded by May 1, 1933 in exchange for $20.67/ounce. Several months later, the new, official gold exchange price (which however was merely the government's bid as nobody could actually buy gold at this price) became $35.00, which remained until 1971 when the last trace of the dollar's pseudo convertibility into gold was wiped out by Nixon. In effect, what FDR did was to devalue the USD by 70% overnight.
  • Second, not only did the government remove the incentive for ordinary citizens to hold gold by establishing price and criminal controls over possession, it also changed the rules in the middle of the game allowing it to build up a massive gold hoard of over 8000 tons today which is maintained at Fort Knox, and is, to the best of our knowledge, unauditable by any mere mortal. Critically, it made the US government the sole source and monopoly agent of gold purchases, using reserve fiat currency it could print with impunity, beginning in 1933 and continuing through 1974 when the limitation on gold ownership was repealed after President Gerald Ford signed a bill legalizing private ownership of gold coins, bars and certificates by an act of Congress codified in Pub.L. 93-373, which went into effect December 31, 1974. In summary, the US government, which is now the largest official holder of physical gold in the world, had 40 years of uncontested zero cost gold accumulation in which it could build a gold inventory that was second to none.

As for the process the government had in place to deal with those who refused to voluntarily hand over their gold quietly, curiously there was only one case of prosecution, which however should make it very clear that holding gold in "authorized" bank safes is about the dumbest thing one can do the next time the US government decides to devalue the dollar, and change the rules.

The circumstances of the case were that a New York attorney, Frederick Barber Campbell, had on deposit at Chase National over 5,000 troy ounces (160 kg) of gold. When Campbell attempted to withdraw the gold Chase refused and Campbell sued Chase. A federal prosecutor then indicted Campbell on the following day (September 27, 1933) for failing to surrender his gold. Ultimately, the prosecution of Campbell failed, but the authority of the federal government to seize gold was upheld, and Campbell's gold was confiscated.

The fact that the custodial bank of the 5000 ounces of gold is the bank that would subsequently become JPMorgan is not lost on us.

Finally, to those who have some gold ETF certificates in a brokerage account, which by law are the possession by DTCC's Cede & Co. - a bank owned institution - we wish the best of luck to anyone hoping to preserve of even recover any of the invested wealth in such instruments.

And remember: when in doubt, recall Bernanke's immortal words: "gold is not money."

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hugovanderbubble's picture

When  CDS for Gold Confication as  Trigger Event?

will be an interesting product



Ray1968's picture

you could probably keep trading GLD afterall. There's no gold in it anyway... just dreams of gold.

hugovanderbubble's picture

GLD is a high risk product

Sponsor can have easily a Counterparty risk cos ultraleverage vs real holdings


Paper Gold -----and all unallocated for me has no intrinsic value


Just Physical worths 

nope-1004's picture

Well, the PM's I had are not at risk of being confiscated, as the boating accident where I lost them all still haunts me.  Lucky to swim to shore and still be alive.

So now I use only crisp Federal Reserve Notes, backed by the full faith and credit of our fine Treasury Department.  I noticed that when the few FRN's in my wallet got wet from the accident, all I had to do was dry them out, and PRESTO - wealth preserved!  Not sure my PM's did as well being under water and all.  </MPD>


RestoreOurFuture's picture



Did you contact your insurance?  I'd be curious if they reimbursed you....

Romney/Ryan 2012

nope-1004's picture



Did you find my comment logical?  If so, I'd be curious to know which institution you're in....


koaj's picture

i posted in reply to the Romney/Ryan troll; not you. I liked your comment very much

nope-1004's picture

ya, I know.  No worries.  I replied to to ROF and put it under you because I didn't want to be pushed down the page.


macholatte's picture



Re: PM Insurance Claim


This actually did happen to me once about 10 years ago. I made a claim after a burglary and the insurance company paid me face value for the coins I claimed, not market value. So I got one dollar per silver dollar. Maybe the only way to insure PM's is to get a special rider which I did not have.

12ToothAssassin's picture

You probably have to register your PMs with the gubmint first

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

I don't think you can insure PM's in your home, or guns for that matter.  I think there is a small amount that you can, but you can't have a million dollars worth of silver in the safe in your basement and insure it.  Probably because there are too many boating accidents.

ghengis86's picture

PM's;  I don't know.  I lost all of mine in a boating accident.

Guns; most definitely.  You have to provide the serial number and depending on their worth, get an independent appraisal of the value.  And it is specifically listed on your homeowners policy as a seperately insured item.  Very much like insuring a wedding ring or other high-value jewelry.  If you have a high deductible (>$1,000), only special rigs are worth the trouble.

Mike7.62's picture

You can insure firearms through the NRA without providing serial numbers etc. Only if they are over $1500 in value do you have to specify what type thay are, and still do not have to provide serial numbers. At one time I had some firearms insured with USAA, but they did require SN's. When I learned of the NRA program, I cnx'd the USAA policy rider and went with the NRA.

gmrpeabody's picture

Difference is...., USAA would actually pay you. Good luck with that NRA policy.

AldousHuxley's picture


don't display PMs in living room.


go buy a safe.

Intoxicologist's picture

You have to schedule them onto your policy; itemized and with a stated value, and probably provide photos.  If their value goes up from what's stated on your policy, you'd have to contact your carrier to have the value increased, for which you'd be charged accordingly.

krispkritter's picture

Now, now...don't get pissy about it. 

tiger7905's picture

Great presentation by Nick Holland of Goldfields on what gold stock investors want.


krispkritter's picture

MDB has Troll Fu...this guy is getting RickRolled on 'I (heart) Romney' links...

markar's picture

Good lord, what the hell are you doing here?

Barack Obama's picture

If these down votes are any reflection of the poles then this election is in the bag.

Daily Bail's picture

For anyone who missed this live. 

Great f-ing clip from yesterday.

Lawyer James Koutoulas Tells Rick Santelli: 'We Plan To Pursue Criminal Charges Against Jon Corzine In All 50 States'

Best quotes from Koutoulas:

"Crimes were unequivocally committed and I will do whatever I can to continue to do the government’s job for it and help see justice done."

"MF Global had a choice.  Do we cheat or go out of business.  And they cheated.  They broke the law.  And these took these customer funds to cover margin calls."

"Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice is the biggest enabler of financial crime in U.S. history."

And the kill shot:

"I will take this to all 50 states.  And we will win.  We will get a conviction of Jon Corzine.  And the next time a sociopath CEO says 'Do I go out of business or do I cheat,' he's gonna think about President Obama's biggest fundraiser in an orange jumpsuit in state prison."

Lawyer James Koutoulas Tells Rick Santelli: 'We Plan To Pursue Criminal Charges Against Jon Corzine In All 50 States'

Troy Ounce's picture



I've news for Koutouas: You do NOT own the money on a segregated account, de bank does.


Good luck to y'all in the US: only now I understand why you find gun ownership so important.


vast-dom's picture

if GLD gets shut down then ALL gold will be dead -- you will have to clear out of America. I doubt in the digital age they will try and confiscate gold as per above -- they can destory the planet in many other ways and in the end when CNTRL +P won't work the missiles and destroyers will. No need to worry about barbaric relics when you can blow shit up like never before....

Bringin It's picture

VD - if GLD gets shut down then ALL gold will be dead

So not true.  Try explaining that to China for example.

[I'm not trying to antagonize you, but I just want to point out that your initials are ... VD.  What are you channeling?]


vast-dom's picture

i meant in USA as i explicitly stated. GOLD in States. My initials only prove that you are thinking what you are thinking.

Bringin It's picture

or you are thinking what you are thinking.  You didn't say GOLD in States as far as I can see, but no worries.

I dragged this up here from down thread to show you someone else undertands.


vast-dom's picture

thx for enlightening me ;) when shit hits fans ETFs will be least of your worries, and most likely even your physical. only thing people will trade is food for food and bullets for bullets. you can't eat gold during apacolypse so SLV is just fine if you don't want to subvert system sooner with physical holdings.


VD over and out. 


yes the person with a little extra food that is about to go rancid will trade you for some gold leveraged to the hilt as your oz = not much more in rice and beans and bits of putrid decaying green meat.

tbone654's picture

in Bosnia, the most valuable thing seemed to be disposable (actually refillable) lighters, as small units of energy were much more easily used to barter...  If you had too much energy in sight of others, such as an LP tank, you were soon dead...  Bosnia might actually be a good model to study... or at least be aware...

vast-dom's picture

exactly. and what was more valuable at that stage of the game: a lighter or a piece of yellow metal? 

Spider's picture

That's silly - of course gold will be tradable as will silver.  Even under a barter system due to a collapse in the financial system, gold/silver will be much more desirable than food for trading ... you cant eat gold but that's not the purpose of good money.

Think of it this way - when you're trying to barter for imported goods (think oil/REEs/commodities) you wont be able to use food - good luck convincing the Saudis you want to trade their 1 million barrels of oil for a bunch of corn.  I think i'll be easily able to outbid you with my gold/silver and make the sale.

And yeah even in a financial collapse there will still be international trade even if it diminishes...

Bendromeda Strain's picture

I find this video so sad that I will supress the snark and invective that I would normally unleash at this time. Pay attention, "vast-dom".

Gold for Bread - Zimbabwe


ZeroPoint's picture

i don't see it happening. Only 2% of investors hold physical. Everyone else holds paper or is flat ass broke. The rich aren't going to tolerate their gold confiscated.

TruthInSunshine's picture

The U.S. government could really do a solid by minting quite a few gold rounds, preferably with $50 and $100 face values, containing anywhere from an ounce to two ounces of .99% precious, and sell it for face value to the American Public while allowing for it to be legally used to pay all debt, public and private.

I wonder what The Bernank & Gang would have to say, via tortured and contradictory analysis presented by way of PowerPoint, about such barbaric* currency circulating and competing with their far more refined, advanced Federal Reserve Notes...

Alan Greenspan, Gold and Economic Freedom (1966)

"This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard."


  1. Savagely cruel; exceedingly brutal.
  2. Primitive; unsophisticated.
GOSPLAN HERO's picture

A pure gold coin is too soft for circulation.

... add 10% copper.

Krugerrands forever!


lasvegaspersona's picture

Explain the Buffalo and all Canadian coins...all .9999 and some .99999

soft yes ...too soft? apparently not

fofoa has a take on confiscation that I believe is more likely than the paranoid ideas tossed about so freely here at ZH.

Isotope's picture

I don't think those coins circulate. People buy them and keep them locked up. The average one might change hands every 3-5 years, likely less frequently than that.

RestoreOurFuture's picture



On the topic of gold confiscation, are you guys aware that Paul Ryan credits Ayn Rand as the single most influencial person in his study of economics? In 2005, he said:  

The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand

In this sense, he's no different than Ron Paul - maybe this is why Rand Paul and many other libertarians strongly endorsed the Romney ticket! It probably isn't surprising that Mr Ryan is an advocate of pegging the US dollar to a basket of commodities. While the gold standard has many flaws in our current multi-trillion dollar economy, a basket of commodities washes out all the risk. This would be a perfect solution that would prevent the Democrats from continuing their policy of dollar destruction and bailouts for everyone.  And besides, have you seen the price of corn and soybeans lately? Imagine how valuable the US dollar would be if pegged to these skyrocketing commodities!

Your vote matters!

Romney/Ryan 2012

Tinky's picture

Perhaps the previous messages sent by many members of this community in response to your earlier, inane posts, were a bit too nuanced. So, let me summarize in a concise manner:

Piss off!

lasvegaspersona's picture


not all ZH posters are completel all  in on hopeless 'we can never overcome our alien slave masters'.

Romney and Paul are preferable to Obama and Biden PERIOD. In any European country Obama would be a Communist, here in the USA with our long history of anti-communism and cold war it is almost like calling someone guilty of treason to call them a commie....but the O/B ticket and most Dems have a very Communist outlook. So the few adults here at ZH who do not have the luxury of pissing on anyone who who is still fighting the fight are right to support them. Whether the lesser of 2 evils or a new hope...we shall see. The next president will oversee the default of the dollar so I don't envy them. But I'll take my chances with the Rs....and NO they are not the same.

Yes I know that 85% of ZH readers will say thumbs down but I think I owe it to the crowd to speak out.

dwayne elizando's picture

Due to the electoral college being the true POTUS deciders I refuse to vote. As a matter of fact I would rather bet on the outcome than waste time and energy going to the ballots for the popular vote.

lightning's picture

You do not understand the electoral college.  It was specifically designed by the founders to protect the voting process.  They realized that in a purer democracy, voting fraud and manipulation can occur.  They designed the college to ensure that every state had an equal say in who was president and not be at the mercy of states like California.  I think your true complaint should be with the current political parties and who funds them.  The financial interests behind the two parties (who are the same mind you) decide who is president by picking who they want on each side and then presenting a false "free choice" to the american public.

TWSceptic's picture

If the system is going to crash anyway, then let it crash under Obama. Let him be responsible for his own mess. Voting for the lesser of two evils means perpetuating the two party system. Maybe that is the true problem, and maybe we should vote for the third party for REAL solutions.