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What is the Gold Record?
September 25, 2007

The fact that gold is trading at levels not seen since 1980, raises a question as to just what is the record price for gold.

$850 a troy ounce seems to be the popular figure, but others can justifiably cite $875 or $825.

What are these?

Well, the $850 is the mark achieved in London on that record setting bullion run. At the time, a generation ago, the London market was still looked upon as the most important bullion market because of its historical role in bullion trading.

New York had only resumed gold bullion trading in 1975 after it became legal to own gold in the United States again, Dec. 31, 1974.

The New York record trading price was $875 a troy ounce, but it was not a closing high Jan. 21, 1980. The actual close that day was $825.

All three prices have legitimate reasons to be cited as the record, but because of the importance of London at the time, Numismatic News has always cited the $850 price as the high. It is a handy round-sounding number that just happens to split the difference between $875 and $825.

Since the heady days of 1980, New York has gained more importance in gold trading and Numismatic News adopted New York prices as the benchmark rather than London. Those are the numbers I have used for many years.

It is fair to say that any market that sees gold hit and one of those three numbers will probably be cited by headline writers. But for historical comparison purposes, it is always nice to have at least one set of numbers that is an apples to apples comparison.

For me the numbers to use as a yardstick are New York numbers.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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