Money In Gold And Silver Coins: History of Money & Gold Standard

Sep 25, 2023 | Coins & Bullion, gold and silver bullion coins salem oregon, Gold Coins, Silver Coins

The History of Money: From Gold and Silver to the U.S Gold Standard

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth exploration of the fascinating history of money, focusing on the pivotal role of gold, silver, and other precious metals in the establishment and development of coinage, and the consequent implementation of the U.S. gold standard. As the use of money evolved, so did its forms and the concepts underpinning its value. From the first coins minted to the rise of paper currency, each chapter of money’s history offers intriguing insights into human civilization’s economic journey. This article is worth reading because it offers valuable knowledge about the roots of our current financial system, why precious metals still hold their value, and how businesses like Accurate Precious Metals help continue this centuries-old tradition.

Key takeaways:

  • The evolution of money from commodity money to representative and then fiat money.
  • The significant role of precious metals, especially gold, and silver, in the monetary system.
  • The history and impact of the gold standard on U.S. money supply.
  • How businesses like Accurate Precious Metals offer valuable services in the precious metals industry.

What Was the First Form of Money?

The earliest form of money was commodity money, which included tangible items such as cattle, shells, and precious metals. Eventually, the use of gold and silver became widespread due to their durability, divisibility, and rarity. The first coins minted, around 600 B.C., were a mix of gold and silver known as ‘electrum’. These coins were stamped with intricate designs to certify their weight and purity, significantly advancing transactions in ancient economies.

Accurate Precious Metals, although not involved in coin minting, has a deep appreciation for these early coins and their pivotal role in the evolution of money. We offer superior buy prices for gold and silver items, including ancient coins, then pawn shops.

What Led to the Rise of Paper Money?

The rise of paper money or paper currency began around the 7th century in China, out of convenience. The Chinese initially used leather money, but they eventually transitioned to paper notes. The use of paper money spread across the world over centuries as the concept of representative money developed. Representative money means that the money itself holds no intrinsic value but represents a claim on a certain quantity of gold or silver.

Although Accurate Precious Metals is not a pawn shop, we offer mail-in services for customers to send their gold, silver, and other precious metals for appraisal, right from the comfort of their homes, even if they’re not local to our Salem, Oregon location.

What is the Gold Standard and How Did it Evolve?

The gold standard is a monetary system in which a country’s currency or paper money has a value directly linked to gold. The U.S. adopted the gold standard Act in 1900, ensuring that the U.S. dollar was convertible into a certain amount of gold. This system offered a sense of financial security but was susceptible to economic shocks, especially if the gold supply was disrupted.

Accurate Precious Metals operates with an in-depth understanding of the gold standard and its implications on the value of gold. Our business is attuned to the shifting prices of gold and we offer competitive rates for your precious metals.

When Did Silver Coins Enter the Monetary System?

Despite the widespread use of gold coins, silver coinage also had a significant role in the monetary system. The value of silver coins was based on their silver content. The ratio of silver to gold in coinage varied over time and across different cultures, providing an intriguing glimpse into the historical complexities of money.

At Accurate Precious Metals, we recognize the value of both gold and silver coins, offering our customers excellent buy prices and services tailored to their needs.

Why Did the U.S. End the Gold Standard?

The U.S. ended the gold standard in 1971 to prevent foreign investors from draining the country’s gold reserves during an economic crisis. From then onwards, the U.S. dollar became a form of fiat money – currency that has value because the government maintains its value, or because two parties agree on its value.

Accurate Precious Metals is deeply familiar with these shifts in the monetary system and their implications for the value of gold. We work diligently to offer our customers the best possible prices for their gold and silver.

Protect Your Money from U.S. Dollar Devaluation

The U.S. dollar has had a long history of being the global reserve currency, dating back to the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944. This agreement served to peg the exchange rate of major currencies to the U.S. Dollar and led to many economies around the world relying on it for international transactions.  

Its usage was further bolstered by the oil industry in Saudi Arabia, which requires other countries to buy it to purchase oil from the kingdom. This has allowed for the U.S. dollar to remain a highly valued currency since its inception up until now. 

However, recent developments have caused some experts to question whether or not this will continue into the future. The emergence of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) as an economic superpower has enabled these nations to create their own currencies which could potentially replace the U.S. dollar as a global reserve currency – leading to a devaluation of this currency and decreased confidence in its creditworthiness in global financial markets.  

Currency vs. Money

Money is a form of wealth that is maintained over long periods of time and serves as a reliable store of value. Currency, on the other hand, is simply an accepted medium of exchange that derives its value from government decrees. Fiat currency was introduced in 1914 when the Federal Reserve, a privately owned and never audited bank with stockholders to whom it pays dividends and has the power to create currency without congressional oversight, issued paper notes beyond what could be redeemed in terms of precious metals with interest. This created a system of fractional reserve banking and led to the creation of the 16th Amendment Income Tax in order to forestall potential economic crises like the Bank Panic of 1907. The amendment made citizens responsible for repaying debt through taxes on purchases and income rather than relying on import duties or taxes on consumer goods. 

Prior to 1914, the world operated under a gold standard which kept inflation low since gold flowed both ways according to traded goods. In 1945, the Bretton Woods System was established which pegged currencies to the US dollar which was tied to the price of gold for easier international trade. 1971 marked the end of this period as President Nixon officially cut ties with this system, making all currencies fiat money backed only by faith instead.  

Fiat currency tends to lose its value over time due to design flaws so investing in Precious Metals can help maintain financial security in times like these. By taking advantage of this economic experiment, one can reap benefits from Precious Metals as they serve as a reliable store of value regardless of changing financial climates. 

How is the Modern Coinage Different?

Modern coins often mix multiple metals to create alloys that ensure durability and reduce production costs. However, gold and silver coins continue to hold historical and intrinsic value, especially for collectors and investors.

Modern coinage minting typically involves using various alloys to strike coins with specific characteristics. The most common metals used in modern coin production are copper, nickel, zinc, and steel. The percentage of each metal in a coin’s composition varies depending on the coin’s denomination and country of origin.

For example:

  • Copper-nickel alloys are commonly used for coins like the U.S. nickel (25% nickel, 75% copper) and the British 50 pence (75% copper, 25% nickel).
  • Cupronickel alloys are also prevalent, such as the U.S. quarter (8.33% nickel, 91.67% copper) and the Euro 1 euro cents (5.5% nickel, 94.5% copper).
  •  Zinc is used in combination with copper to create coins like the U.S. penny (2.5% copper, 97.5% zinc) and the Canadian 5-cent coin (94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, 2% nickel).
  • Steel is used in coins like the Euro 2 euro cents (94.35% steel, 5.65% copper).

These metal compositions are chosen to achieve the desired properties of the coins, such as durability, resistance to wear and corrosion, and cost-effectiveness. The precise percentages are determined based on the coin’s weight, size, and intended use in everyday transactions.

At Accurate Precious Metals, we appreciate the value of modern coins as well as historical pieces. Our expert team offers top-tier services to evaluate and purchase your precious metals, ensuring you receive the best value possible.

Where Can You Sell Your Gold and Silver Coins Today?

You can sell your gold and silver coins to a reputable dealer like Accurate Precious Metals. Unlike pawn shops, our business specializes in precious metals, ensuring you get the best prices for your gold and silver items. Whether you’re selling a single silver dollar or a whole collection of gold coins, Accurate Precious Metals is your trusted partner in Salem, Oregon.

Not local? No problem. We offer mail-in services for your convenience. Simply mail in your gold, silver, diamonds, or other jewelry for appraisal and receive an offer that’s hard to beat.

Final takeaways:

  • Money has evolved from commodity money, like gold and silver, to representative and then fiat money.
  • The gold standard linked the value of a country’s currency to a specific amount of gold.
  • Precious metals continue to hold their value and can be sold to reputable dealers like Accurate Precious Metals for top-tier prices.
  • Unlike pawn shops, Accurate Precious Metals specializes in precious metals, ensuring you receive the best possible prices for your gold and silver.

So, whether you’re looking to learn about the history of money or want to explore the value of your precious metals, Accurate Precious Metals has the knowledge and services you need.

You can visit Accurate Precious Metals in person at 1855 Hawthorne Ave NE, Salem OR 97301, or give them a call at (503) 400-5608. Their dedicated team is ready to assist you with all your precious metal needs, whether you prefer to stop by their physical location or speak with them over the phone.


Q: What is the history of money?

A: Money has been used as a form of currency for centuries. It started with the concept of barter, where goods were exchanged for other goods. However, this system was not efficient, and people soon realized the need for a more standardized form of currency.

Q: What is the gold standard?

A: The gold standard is a monetary system where the value of a country’s currency is directly linked to a set amount of gold. Under this system, paper currency could be exchanged for a fixed amount of gold.

Q: How were gold and silver used as money?

A: Gold and silver were used as money because they were valuable commodities. They were easily divisible and had a high intrinsic value, making them an ideal form of currency.

Q: What is fiat money?

A: Fiat money is a form of currency that has value because a government declares it to be so. Unlike commodity money, such as gold or silver, fiat money does not have intrinsic value.

Q: What is representative money?

A: Representative money is a form of currency that is backed by a physical commodity, such as gold or silver. It represents a claim on a certain amount of the underlying commodity.

Q: When did the gold standard come to an end?

A: The gold standard began to decline in the early 20th century and was officially abandoned by most countries in the 1930s. It was then replaced by fiat money systems.

Q: What is the difference between silver and gold as money?

A: Both silver and gold have been used as forms of currency, but gold has generally been considered more valuable and has a higher monetary value per troy ounce.

Q: What were the types of money used before paper currency?

A: Before paper currency, coins made of gold and silver were the most common forms of money. These coins were minted by governments and used as a medium of exchange.

Q: Who was responsible for issuing money in the past?

A: In the past, the responsibility of issuing money rested with the central bank or the government. They controlled the supply of money and ensured its stability.

Q: Why did the gold standard come to an end?

A: The gold standard was abandoned due to various reasons, including the need for more flexibility in monetary policy, the economic challenges posed by the Great Depression, and the desire to print more paper money to stimulate the economy.

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