Gold Reserves in metric tonnes by country 1845-1998

Some Background — The British pound and Gold and Silver standards in the 19th century

According to this silver article, from the time of Spain's conquering of the "new world" the value of gold in relation to silver maintained a relatively stable ratio of 15½ over 1. A British pound note could be exchanged at the Bank of England for one gold sovereign (with 7.322 grams of gold) or 20 silver shillings (with 5.655 grams of silver), thus staying close to this ratio, and establishing relative stability with business and government contracts worldwide.

USSR (and US) Gold in the 20th century

According to the World Gold Council, Table 4 below shows the major increases to the gold reserves stored in London and New York, Moscow and Paris that took place on the dawn of World War 2.

USSR gold reserves which had been 7456 metric tonnes in 1935 and second only to the US, increased by yet another 510 metric tonnes in 1936 as a result of the Spanish civil war. Stalinist Russia had been one of the Spanish republic's arms suppliers in their war against Franco, mind you, at heavily inflated exchange rates, and then, with Franco's army approaching Madrid in late 1936, the majority of the republic's remaining gold (about 70%) was shipped to Moscow for safe keeping, the balance going to the Bank of France.

Spain and the USSR had this in common at the outbreak of World War 2, neither reported their holdings to Bank for International Settlements based in Zurich, Switzerland, used by everyone else to keep track of debt. Spain is thought to have had negligible holdings while Moscow's reserves are now thought to have been considerable.

However at the end of the war the USSR holdings appear to have also become negligible, with much of the gold apparently ending up on deposit in the US.









** End of Report