A Look Back Through Time: Exploring the Fascinating Gold Price History and Its Impact on the Global Economy

Published October 16, 2023
Joshua D. Glawson Joshua D. Glawson
Written By Joshua D. Glawson
Stefan Gleason Stefan Gleason
Edited By Stefan Gleason

Introduction to Gold Price History

Gold is a precious metal, much like silver, platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Gold has been used as a form of currency for over 5,000 years. It is considered on of the most valuable, commonly traded, metals in the world. Throughout time, gold has maintained its high value through economic turmoil, strife, and general ups-and-downs. The Gold price tend to increase during times of economic uncertainty and market volatility.

Historical Gold Price

Gold prices are influenced by a variety of factors, including supply and demand, inflation, energy costs, gold’s ratio to silver and to paper currency, and geopolitical events. Gold is often seen as a safe-haven asset and a hedge against inflation, and is widely traded on the international market including by the London Bullion Market, the New York Mercantile Exchange, and the Tokyo Commodity Exchange.

Taking a look at the history of gold prices and what events have influenced those prices, it is understandable why the price of gold is often viewed as being volatile; especially when compared to the U.S. dollar. Many interventions have been made by various governments and the private sector to adjust or correct the price of gold, for better or worse. 

The History of Gold Prices

Gold Price Trends Over the Last 30 Years (1969-2023)

Annual average, high, and low prices of gold in USD.

Year Average
Closing Price
Year Open Year High Year Low Year Close Annual
% Change
2023 $1,927.99 $1,824.16 $2,053.13 $1,811.27 $1,932.50 5.93%
2022 $1,801.87 $1,800.10 $2,043.30 $1,626.65 $1,824.32 -0.23%
2021 $1,798.89 $1,946.60 $1,954.40 $1,678.00 $1,828.60 -3.51%
2020 $1,773.73 $1,520.55 $2,058.40 $1,472.35 $1,895.10 24.43%
2019 $1,393.34 $1,287.20 $1,542.60 $1,270.05 $1,523.00 18.83%
2018 $1,268.93 $1,312.80 $1,360.25 $1,176.70 $1,281.65 -1.15%
2017 $1,260.39 $1,162.00 $1,351.20 $1,162.00 $1,296.50 12.57%
2016 $1,251.92 $1,075.20 $1,372.60 $1,073.60 $1,151.70 8.63%
2015 $1,158.86 $1,184.25 $1,298.00 $1,049.60 $1,060.20 -11.59%
2014 $1,266.06 $1,219.75 $1,379.00 $1,144.50 $1,199.25 -0.19%
2013 $1,409.51 $1,681.50 $1,692.50 $1,192.75 $1,201.50 -27.79%
2012 $1,668.86 $1,590.00 $1,790.00 $1,537.50 $1,664.00 5.68%
2011 $1,573.16 $1,405.50 $1,896.50 $1,316.00 $1,574.50 11.65%
2010 $1,226.66 $1,113.00 $1,426.00 $1,052.25 $1,410.25 27.74%
2009 $973.66 $869.75 $1,218.25 $813.00 $1,104.00 27.63%
2008 $872.37 $840.75 $1,023.50 $692.50 $865.00 3.41%
2007 $696.43 $640.75 $841.75 $608.30 $836.50 31.59%
2006 $604.34 $520.75 $725.75 $520.75 $635.70 23.92%
2005 $444.99 $426.80 $537.50 $411.50 $513.00 17.12%
2004 $409.53 $415.20 $455.75 $373.50 $438.00 4.97%
2003 $363.83 $342.20 $417.25 $319.75 $417.25 21.74%
2002 $310.08 $278.10 $348.50 $277.80 $342.75 23.96%
2001 $271.19 $272.80 $292.85 $256.70 $276.50 1.41%
2000 $279.29 $282.05 $316.60 $263.80 $272.65 -6.26%
1999 $278.86 $288.25 $326.25 $252.90 $290.85 1.18%
1998 $294.12 $287.70 $314.60 $273.40 $287.45 -0.61%
1997 $331.00 $367.80 $367.80 $283.05 $289.20 -21.74%
1996 $387.73 $387.10 $416.25 $368.30 $369.55 -4.43%
1995 $384.07 $381.40 $396.95 $372.45 $386.70 1.10%
1994 $384.16 $395.00 $397.50 $370.25 $382.50 -2.09%
1993 $360.05 $329.40 $406.70 $326.50 $390.65 17.35%
1992 $343.87 $351.20 $359.30 $330.20 $332.90 -5.80%
1991 $362.34 $392.50 $403.70 $343.50 $353.40 -9.62%
1990 $383.73 $401.65 $421.40 $346.75 $391.00 -2.49%
1989 $381.27 $413.60 $417.15 $358.10 $401.00 -2.23%
1988 $436.78 $484.10 $485.30 $389.05 $410.15 -15.69%
1987 $446.84 $402.40 $502.75 $392.60 $486.50 24.46%
1986 $368.20 $327.10 $442.75 $326.00 $390.90 19.54%
1985 $317.42 $306.25 $339.30 $285.00 $327.00 5.83%
1984 $360.65 $384.00 $406.85 $303.25 $309.00 -19.00%
1983 $423.71 $452.75 $511.50 $374.75 $381.50 -14.84%
1982 $376.11 $399.00 $488.50 $297.00 $448.00 12.00%
1981 $459.16 $592.00 $599.25 $391.75 $400.00 -32.15%
1980 $614.75 $559.00 $843.00 $474.00 $589.50 12.50%
1979 $307.01 $227.15 $524.00 $216.55 $524.00 133.41%
1978 $193.57 $168.60 $243.65 $166.30 $224.50 35.57%
1977 $147.84 $136.10 $168.15 $129.40 $165.60 23.08%
1976 $124.80 $140.35 $140.35 $103.05 $134.55 -4.06%
1975 $160.87 $185.00 $186.25 $128.75 $140.25 -25.20%
1974 $158.76 $114.75 $197.50 $114.75 $187.50 67.04%
1973 $97.12 $64.99 $127.00 $64.10 $112.25 73.49%
1972 $58.17 $43.73 $70.00 $43.73 $64.70 48.74%
1971 $40.80 $37.33 $43.90 $37.33 $43.50 16.37%
1970 $35.96 $35.13 $39.19 $34.78 $37.38 6.16%
1969 $41.10 $41.80 $43.75 $35.00 $35.21 -16.07%

3000 BCE: Gold is used by ancient civilizations such as those in Egypt and Mesopotamia

1500 BCE: Gold became an international medium of exchange 

1500 BCE: The Shekel, which averaged 11.3 grams of gold (technically it was electrum, which is ⅔ gold and ⅓ silver), was a standard unit of measure in the Middle East

1350 BCE: The Babylonians began to fire assay to test the purity of gold 

1200 BCE: The Egyptians invent gold leaf and gold leafing 

1200 BCE: Black Sea region uses unshorn sheepskin to recover gold flakes from sand (golden fleece)

1091 BCE: China legalizes squares of gold as being forms of fractional money 

600-699 BCE: The Byzantine Empire resumes gold mining throughout Europe  

550 BCE: Lydia, which is in present-day Turkey or Asia Minor, made the first gold coins (Classical Period)

50 BCE: Romans made gold coins called an Aureus, and the Roman gold-silver ratio was 12:1

27 BCE - 476 CE: The Roman Empire used gold coins as the preferred currency

880 CE: The British Royal Mint began making coins 

1066 CE: The Norman Conquest established a sterling silver standard in England called the Pound

1279 CE: The Royal Mint unified into one system across a network of mints in England 

1284 CE: Venice produced a gold coin called the Ducat 

1284 CE: England made a gold coin called a Florin 

1330 CE: Venice made silver-gold ratio 10:1

1344 CE: England made a gold coin called a Noble

1377 CE: England created a monetary system based on bimetallism - silver and gold

1450 CE: Silver to gold ratio set to 12:1 

1465 CE: England made a gold coin called an Angel 

1526 CE: England, under King Henry VIII, made a gold coin called a Crown, or a Crown of the Double Rose

1535 CE: The Spanish create a gold coin called an Escudo 

1663 CE: England made a gold coin called a Guinea 

1717 CE: The Royal Commission of Great Britain comprised Issac Newton, John Locke, and Lord Somers. They helped establish a 16:1 silver-to-gold ratio, establishing an official gold price.

1787 CE: The first gold coin in the United States was made by goldsmith Ephraim Brasher. The coin is often referred to as a New York Brasher Doubloon 

1791-1811 CE: The First Bank of the United States was established as a national banking system

1792 CE: The Coinage Act of 1792 established the United States with a bimetallic monetary system - silver and gold with a ratio of 15:1

1792 CE: The United States Mint is established 

1792 CE: The U.S. gold $10 Washington Eagle is released 

1792 CE: The average gold price is $19.39 - $19.75 per Troy ounce 

1796 CE: The U.S. gold $2.50 Turban Quarter Eagle is released 

1797 CE: The U.S. gold $5 Turban Half Eagle is released 

1797 CE: The Panic of 1797

1799-1849 CE: The North Carolina Gold Rush. This is widely considered the first gold rush. 

1804 CE: The U.S. gold $10 Eagle is released 

1807 CE: The U.S. gold $5 Draped Bust Half Eagle is released 

1816-1836 CE: The Second Bank of the United States is established as a national banking system

1817 CE: Britain created the small gold coin called a Sovereign, valued at one pound of sterling silver

1819 CE: The Panic of 1819

1821 CE: England adopts a Gold Standard 

1821 CE: The U.S. gold $2.50 Capped Head is released 

1834 CE: The United States established a Troy ounce of gold to be equal to $20.67

1834 CE: The Coinage Act of 1834 adjusts the silver-to-gold ratio to 16:1

1834 CE: The U.S. gold $2.50 Capped Head is redesigned and released 

1835 CE: The U.S. gold $2.50 Classic Head Quarter Eagle is released 

1837 CE: The Panic of 1837

1848-1855 CE: The California Gold Rush 

1851-1871 CE: The Australian Gold Rush

1853 CE: The Coinage Act of 1853 reduced the amount of silver in U.S. coins

1855 CE: The U.S. gold $3 coin is released 

1857 CE: The Coinage Act of 1857 eliminated the use of foreign coins in the domestic U.S.

1857 CE: The Panic of 1857

1858-1861 CE: The Colorado Gold Rush

1861-1864 CE: The Otago Gold Rush occurred on New Zealand’s south island

1861-1865 CE: The American Civil War  

1862 CE: Latin Monetary Union set the fineness, weight, size, and denomination of silver and gold coins in France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, and Greece (1868). These countries were obligated to accept one another’s currency. 

1863 CE: The National Bank Act of 1863 allowed for a national bank. Paved the way for the Federal Reserve. 

1864 CE: The National Bank Act of 1864 allowed federal supervision of banks

1865-1866 CE: The National Bank Act of 1865 and 1866 imposed taxes to make federal currency a less costly option than state currency or private currency 

1871 CE: The Japan Mint opens

1871 CE: Germany adopts a Gold Stanard 

1873 CE: The Coinage Act of 1873, also known as the “Crime of ‘73,” demonetizes silver while establishing the U.S. Gold Standard

1873 CE: The Panic of 1873 

1873-1896 CE: The Long Depression 

1874 CE: The U.S. gold $10 Eagle is released 

1874-1877 CE: The Black Hills Gold Rush in South Dakota and Wyoming

1875 CE: The Specie Resumption Act of 1875 allowed for convertibility between gold and silver, and greenbacks (1879 CE)  

1878 CE: The U.S. gold $10 Coronet Eagle is released 

1880 CE: The U.S. gold $4 coin is released 

1880 CE: The U.S. gold $20 Double Eagle is released 

1882 CE: NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) was founded to operate as a commodity futures exchange for such things as the precious metals silver and gold.

1886-1914 CE: The Witwatersrand Gold Rush took place in the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa

1887 CE: John Steward MacArthur patented a cyanidation process for recovering gold from ore - effectively doubling world output for at least 20 years thereafter 

1890 CE: The Sherman Silver Purchase Act required the U.S. government to purchase another 4.5 million ounces of silver bullion at the market price monthly. This increased the government’s silver purchases by over 50% a month. This was all happening as the U.S. was acquiring more western territories and adding at least 6 new states between 1889 and 1890.

1892 CE: The South African Mint opens 

1893 CE: The Panic of 1893 

1896-1899 CE: The Klondike Gold Rush, also known as The Yukon Gold Rush, happened in Canada

1896-1899 CE: The Alaska Gold Rush, also known as the Klondike-Alaska Gold Rush

1897 CE: The London Silver Fix began. This was established by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). From 1897 to 2014, three banks led the organization and silver fix - HSBC USA Bank (the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited), Deutsche Bank AG, and The Bank of Nova Scotia-ScotiaMocatta. The LBMA only accepts Good Delivery silver bullion bars. These must have a weight between 750 oz t and 1,100 oz t (23 kg to 34 kg).

1898-1910 CE: The Atlin Gold Rush in British Columbia, Canada 

1899 CE: The Australian Perth Mint opens

1899-1909 CE: The Nome Gold Rush in Alaska 

1900 CE: The Gold Standard Act began in the United States. The Gold Standard Act of 1900 officially renounced bimetallism and pegged the U.S. currency to gold. This is sometimes referred to as The Coinage Act of 1900. 

1902-1904 CE: The Fairbanks Gold Rush in Alaska

1907 CE: The Panic of 1907

1908 CE: The Royal Canadian Mint opens 

1908 CE: The National Monetary Commission began 

1908 CE: The U.S. gold $2.50 Indian Head is released 

1909-1911 CE: The Porcupine Gold Rush in Ontario, Canada

1910 CE: The infamous meeting at Jekyll Island

1913 CE: The Federal Reserve Act established the Federal Reserve 

1913 CE: The 16th Amendment was ratified, opening the door to federal income tax

1914-1918 CE: World War I (WWI) caused the price of gold to rise 

1914-1919 CE: The Gold Standard was suspended during World War I (WWI) by the United States of America and Great Britain. 

1915 CE: The U.S. gold $5 Half Eagle is released 

1916 CE: The U.S. gold $20 Double Eagle is released 

1919 CE: The London Gold Fix began comprised of 5 banks - Barclays, HSBC, ScotiaMocatta, Société Générale, and Deutsche Bank. This set the price of gold twice per day 

1925 CE: United Kingdom returned to a gold standard but not for circulation 

1925 CE: Australia returned to a gold standard

1925 CE: South Africa returned to a gold standard

1928 CE: The U.S. gold $2.50 Indian Quarter Eagle is released 

1929-1945 CE: The Great Depression. This causes a surge in gold price.

1931 CE: Great Britain abandons the gold bullion standard

1933 CE: The U.S. gold $10 Indian Eagle is released  

1933 CE: U.S. President Franklyn D. Roosevelt (FDR) signed Executive Order 6102, forbidding individuals and most companies from holding gold coins, gold bullion, gold bars, gold ingots, and gold certificates. FDR required all of those who did possess these gold items to sell them to the US government for $20.67 per Troy ounce in fiat currency. This order was made possible via the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, and the Emergency Banking Act on March 9, 1933.

1933-1941 CE: The Commodity Exchange (COMEX) was founded in 1933, and suspended in 1941.

1934 CE: In the Silver Purchase Act of 1934, U.S. President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6814 to confiscate and nationalize silver, outlawing private ownership of quantities of more than 500 Troy ounces.

1934 CE: The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 was established and increased the price of a Troy ounce of gold to $35. Devalued the gold dollar up to 40%. This made silver to gold ratio 35:1.

1939-1945 CE: World War II (WWII) 

1939 CE: The silver-gold ratio rises to 98:1 

1942 CE: FDR closed all gold mines in the United States 

1945 CE: The Bretton Woods Agreement and System was agreed upon in 1944, and ratified in 1945. This established the U.S. dollar as the international standard for pegging other currencies, while the U.S. was to peg against gold. This agreement established the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The Bretton Woods System lasted from 1945 to mostly the early 1970s although there is evidence it lasted into the early 80s with some elements remaining today.

1946 CE: COMEX reopens 

1951 CE: Argor SA is established, later becoming Argor-Heraeus. 

1953 CE: The Recession of 1953

1958 CE: The Recession of 1958

1960 CE: The U.S. Mint terminates its policy of buying and selling gold to licensed entities 

1960 CE: Gold-backing of Federal Reserve Notes is eliminated 

1960-1961 CE: The Recession of 1960-1961

1961 CE: Valcambi is founded 

1961 CE: The London Gold Pool was established. Within this was suggested that Americans were not allowed to hold onto gold in foreign countries as agreed by the United States, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, West Germany, and the United Kingdom.

1963 CE: COMEX resumed trading silver futures 

1965 CE: The Coinage Act of 1965 removed silver from most U.S. coins, effectively debasing the currency

1965 CE: The Royal Australian Mint opens

1965 CE: Astronaut Col. Edward White uses a gold-coated visor for a spacewalk 

1967 CE: The New Zealand Mint opens 

1967 CE: South Africa created the gold coin called the Krugerrand 

1968 CE: The Singapore Mint opens

1968 CE: A two-tiered pricing system emerged between central banks trading gold as monetary authorities for $35 per ounce, and the second system as among the free market trading price.

1968 CE: Japan allowed the import of gold 

1969-1970 CE: The Recession of 1969-1970

1970 CE: The Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 began the process of making the US dollar a strictly fiat currency 

1971 CE: U.S. terminates all gold sales or purchases, and the conversion of foreign currencies into gold

1971-1972 CE: The Smithsonian Agreement was signed by the Group of Ten and pegged the dollar to a Troy ounce of gold at $38. This also acted to help end many aspects of the Bretton Woods Agreement. 

1973 CE: The U.S. raised the price of gold to $42.22 per Troy ounce in February. By June, it had risen to more than $120 per Troy ounce. 

1973-1975 CE: The Recession of 1973-1975

1974 CE: The U.S. allowed to own gold other than just gold jewelry 

1974 CE: COMEX resumed trading gold futures

1975 CE: The U.S. Treasury auctions off over 1,253,500 Troy ounces of gold by June 1975

1975 CE: Gold futures begin on New York’s Commodity Exchange (aka New York Mercantile Exchange, NYMEX) and on Chicago’s International Monetary Market (aka Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME) and Board of Trade (CBOT)

1976-1980 CE: IMF sold one-third of its gold holdings to developing countries, an estimated 25 million Troy ounces; IMF also provided another 25 million Troy ounces for auctions to benefit these developing member countries 

1977 CE: PAMP (Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux) is established 

1978 CE: Weakening U.S. dollar as tensions rise between the U.S. and Communist China, Iran, and others.

1979 CE: The Royal Canadian Mint released the one-ounce Maple Leaf gold coin 

1978-1980 CE: U.S. Treasury sold 15.8 million Troy ounces of gold 

1980 CE: Gold spot price fell rapidly 

1980 CE: Gold spot price reaches a record high 

1980 CE: Silver spot price reaches a record high 

1980 CE: Silver market crash - Silver Thursday 

1981 CE: Goldcorp Australia issued the Nugget gold bullion coin

1981-1982 CE: The Recession of 1981-1982, also known as The Early 1980s Recession 

1982 CE: The Olympic Commemorative Coin Act created the first U.S. legal tender gold coins since 1933. These coins were to be for the 1984  Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. The coins were a $1 silver coin and a $10 gold coin. 

1982 CE: The Royal Canadian Mint introduced the fractional Maple Leafs in the sizes of ¼ oz t and 1/10 oz t 

1982 CE: China created the Panda gold bullion coin 

1983 CE: Sunshine Minting is established 

1985 CE: Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985, also known as the Liberty Coin Act, authorized the U.S. Mint to produce gold bullion coins and silver bullion coins. It is sometimes referred to as The Coinage Act of 1985

1986 CE: The American Gold Eagle gold bullion coin was released by the U.S. Mint in face values of $5, $10, $25, and $50 with the respective denominations of 1/10 oz t, ¼ oz t, ½ oz t, and 1 oz t. This coin had the same image as the St. Gaudens double-eagle gold coin from 1907 to 1933, as the obverse (heads) was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. 

1987 CE: The British Royal Mint released the Britannia Gold Bullion Coin 

1988 CE: Japan buys large sums of gold in preparation for the release of a gold commemorative coin

1989 CE: The Austrian Mint opens

1989 CE: The Austrian Mint released the Philharmonic gold bullion coin 

1990 CE: The United States became the world’s second-largest gold-producing country 

1990-1991 CE: The Recession of 1990-1991

1993 CE: Germany lifts value-added tax restrictions, opening the gold market for Germany

1993 CE: India establishes a gold market 

1993 CE: Turkey establishes a gold market 

1994 CE:  Russia establishes a gold market 

1994 CE: COMEX merged with NYMEX

1997 CE: Congress passes the Taxpayers Relief Act allowing for at least .995 fineness or higher of gold coins and gold bars to be stored in an Individual Retirement Account (Gold IRA)

1999 CE: The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999. This act, also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and allowed for greater integration between commercial and investment banking. The increased financialization of the gold market likely influenced gold prices.

1999 CE: The Washington Agreement on Gold limits the amount of gold that central banks can sell, helping to stabilize prices.

1999 CE: The European Union established the digital Euro while having at least 15% of its reserves in gold 

2000-2001 CE: The Dot-Com Bubble Burst 

2001 CE: 9/11 and the attacks on the World Trade Center led to economic strife, and gold price increased

2002 CE: The Euro is made into a physical currency

2002 CE: The Shanghai Gold Exchange begins 

2007-2009 CE: The Great Recession 

2008 CE: Global financial crisis causes gold prices to rise

2008 CE: CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group) purchased COMEX / NYMEX.

2009 CE: Bitcoin is released as a crypto-based currency, i.e. cryptocurrency.

2010 CE: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 created stricter regulations and higher prices for those wanting to invest in gold 

2011 CE: Gold price reaches a new record high of over $1900 per Troy ounce

2014 CE: The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) replaced The London Gold Fix in what is sometimes referred to as The London Gold Fix Reform. In order to limit manipulation, this system is public and also released twice per day for transparency. 

2016 CE: Shanghai Gold Benchmark Price is a form of gold price fixing 

2020-2023 CE: Covid-19 lockdowns and mandates 

2020 CE: Gold reaches intraday record high of $2072.50, on August 2, 2020. This made the silver-gold ratio around 120:1

Where to Buy Gold? 

When purchasing gold, it is important to buy from a reputable company that delivers as promised, does not pay for celebrity endorsements, has quick shipping times, has low premiums, and promotes melt value price over a speculative price such as a numismatic or coin-collecting value. 

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Joshua D. Glawson

About the Author:

Joshua D. Glawson is a writer on such topics as politics, economics, philosophy, finance, and personal development. He has a Bachelor's in Political Science from the University of California Irvine. He is the Content Manager of Money Metals Exchange.