Readers Ask column from July 20, 2015, issue of Coin World:
I am curious about the Gold Recall Act of 1933. I find this law
appalling and very unfair, especially as the country was at the
depths of the Great Depression. I can’t imagine the U.S. Congress
passing such a law unless it was to take advantage of higher gold
prices in Europe. (Gold was artificially set at $35 an ounce here in
the U.S.) Were people paid at the artificial price of $35 an ounce
or the prevailing price worldwide? Where did the recalled gold go?
Was it sold, melted or stored at Fort Knox? I expect many people did
not comply for various reasons.
William Bellinger / Marietta, Ga.
“the Gold Recall Act of 1933,” the reader appears to refer to the
April 5, 1933, executive order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, not
a congressional act.
April 5, 1933, about a month after becoming the nation’s Chief
Executive, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102, purportedly to provide a
jump start to the economy. The order required gold coins, gold bullion
and gold certificates (which were redeemable in gold) to be turned
over to the government by May 1, 1933, at the official price of $20.67
per ounce (not $35; that official price was instituted in 1934).
order was not absolute. Citizens could retain $100 in gold coins of
any kind, and coins with special collector value were exempted from
executive orders followed, modifying the regulations imposed in the
the provisions of 6102, citizens who failed to comply risked fines up
to $10,000, imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both. Some prosecutions
were made under the subsequent executive orders and the Gold Reserve
Act of Jan. 30, 1934.
gold coins, bullion and gold dust turned in by American citizens were
melted down into bars weighing 400 troy ounces each. The melted gold
forms the bulk of the nation’s gold reserves stored at the Fort Knox Gold Bullion Depository.
gold coins’ low survival rates likely result from that melting.