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Curious what the real price of gold is?
Whether you want to buy gold coins or sell them, it can be a little tricky to get a fix on current gold prices.
Where do you find out how much gold is worth?
What about gold coin values… How much is a gold coin worth today?
Well, you’ve come to the right place to find the answers to those questions!
What Is The Current Price Of Gold?
The real price of gold is changing all the time.
Like the index numbers on the stock market, gold prices are changing literally every moment of every trading day.
If you look up the price of gold right this moment during an active trading session (which would be on pretty much any non-holiday weekday in the United States), it will likely be a different price by the time you finish reading this article!
A Brief History Of Gold Prices
So, why do gold prices change so frequently?
Well, it wasn’t always this way. The United States had fixed the gold price at $20.67 per ounce for many years until 1934 — the year after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set forth Executive Order 6102 and essentially banned the ownership of gold coins, gold certificates, and gold bullion.
Beginning in 1934, the United States set the price of gold at $35, where the value remained for decades afterward.
The value of gold was pegged at around $35 per ounce through the early 1970s, until President Richard Nixon officially took the United States dollar off the gold standard in August 1971 — a few years before Americans could freely own gold coins, gold certificates, and gold bullion again.
Changes in market pricing and a slew of economic troubles caused gold values to rapidly increase throughout the remainder of the 1970s.
Then, in 1980, gold prices reached what was then an all-time nominal high of $850 per ounce.
The value of gold fell to about $500 by the end of 1981 and remained around or below $500 into the mid 2000s — with gold prices dipping lower than $280 per ounce at one point in 2002.
Gold prices continued climbing as the Great Recession in the late 2000s caused excruciating economic devastation that led to stock market woes and the unemployment of millions of Americans. These issues helped push gold prices to new record highs in September 2011, when gold values hit $1,900 per ounce.
The price of gold settled again throughout the rest of the 2010s but hit a new record on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when gold values briefly reached beyond $2,050 in August of that year. Gold prices fell to below $1,800 within a few months after.
Wait… Gold Prices Don’t Always Go Up?
Contrary to what many people think about precious metals, gold prices don’t just keep going up and up and up.
Unfortunately, many folks who are new to buying gold believe that gold values are supposed to keep increasing. This may be partly due to oft-touted but yet-unrealized hype about gold “going to” $5,000 or $10,000, or some other astronomical figure. Fear of missing out leads many people to buy gold with the assumption that it’s about to reach some unprecedented record high price.
Even if this isn’t something they’ve heard or were pitched by an unscrupulous advertiser, a lot of folks have it in their heads that because gold is relatively rare or valuable it can’t lose its value.
But, as we’ve seen in the previous section covering the history of gold prices, this yellow precious metal is prone to value fluctuations. Sometimes it’s worth more than it is at other times. In fact, when adjusted for inflation, gold has — as of this writing — never been worth more than it was in 1980. Not even close.
Yes, even when gold was worth more than $2,000 in 2020, it was still worth less (factoring inflation) than it was in 1980.
So Why Buy Gold?
At this point you’re probably scratching your head… If gold prices don’t always go up and its inflation-adjusted highest price to date was all the way back in 1980, why should you buy gold?
Let’s get one thing straight: gold really should not be looked at as an investment. Rather, it ought to be considered a hedge against inflation. What that means is, even if the value of the dollar goes down, gold holds its own value regardless.
Humankind has treasured gold for more than 5,000 years. Lots of currencies and monetary systems have come and gone during that time. Yet, gold is still a valuable commodity — always has been, always will be.
If you had $850 in 1980, what would’ve happened if you just stashed that cash under your mattress? That same $850 would have a buying power of only about $235 in 2021. But if you bought an ounce of gold in 1980, when it was worth $850, it would be worth around $1,750 in 2021.
Sure, when you adjust for inflation, you’ll see that gold prices would have to surpass $2,850 an ounce in 2021 to be worth the equivalent of what it was in 1980. But, guess what? You’re still better off owning a chunk of gold you bought in 1980!
The takeaway here is: Don’t buy gold because you’re hoping to flip it next month for twice what you paid today. Buy gold because you want to help protect yourself against inflation or economic catastrophes.
How Much Is A Gold Coin Worth Today?
Gold coins have 2 kinds of value:
- Intrinsic Value (or Spot Value) — The coin’s value based on the amount of gold inside the coin itself.
- Numismatic Value — An amount the coin is worth due to its rarity, condition, or something else beyond its gold value.
If you want to find out how much your gold coins are worth based on their spot value, check out a website like Coinflation — which helps you find out exactly how much your gold coins are worth based on their gold content.
If you want to determine the numismatic value of your gold coins, keep in mind that it will vary based on:
- Where the gold coin was made
- The date it was struck
- Its grade or condition (state of preservation)
- The presence of any errors or varieties
Your best bet for assessing the numismatic value of your gold coins is to explore gold coin value price guides like these:
- Professional Coin Grading Service Coin Price Guide
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation Coin Price Guide
- Greysheet Coin Price Guide
Where To Sell Gold Coins
If you want to sell your gold coins, go for it — just be careful about where you go to unload them!
The cash for gold places may not offer you the full value of your gold coins. Pawn shops and jewelers aren’t necessarily going to give you what your gold coins are worth, either.
The best place to buy and sell gold coins is at a coin dealer!
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I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I’m also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I’ve contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I’ve authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!