On May 14, 1973, gold broached $100 an ounce for the first time,
closing at $102.50 an ounce in the London Market.
The price of gold had been rising pretty steadily for months, though
the markets also showed the occasional declines. The price hit $70 an
ounce in London on Aug. 2, 1972, after blasting through the $60 level
on June 6. In the fall, however, prices fell, reaching $61 an ounce in
London on Nov. 20.
In the United States, where gold ownership was still tightly
regulated, the official price of the metal was well below market
levels. On May 8, 1972, the Treasury Department raised the price of
gold from $35 an ounce — the price it had been maintained at since
January 1934 — to $38 an ounce. However, that price did not stand for
long; the Treasury boosted the official price to $42.22 an ounce on
Feb. 12, 1973.
For collectors, the rising prices affected pricing of common gold
coins. During the mid-part of 1972, the price of common-date double
eagles rose from $80 to $95 in just five weeks. However, collectors
and dealers were still restricted to the kinds of gold coins they
could own in February 1973, with most pieces issued since 1934 off
limits. All restrictions on gold ownership in the United States were
lifted Dec. 31, 1974, when the price on the London market was testing
$200 an ounce.
Experts were dumbfounded. however, when the price of gold fell on
Jan. 2, 1975, to $175.25 an ounce from its Dec. 31 close at $186.75.
Profit-taking was blamed. Prices would continue to fall, nearly to the
$100 level, during this first year of unrestricted gold ownership in
the United States. The price would not top $200 an ounce until July 1978.
Today, gold is trading in the $1,300 an ounce of range, and topped
$1,900 an ounce in August 2011 (its peak) before the market slowed.
Collectors and investors today can only dream of gold price at less
than $200 an ounce.