How Much Gold Is In Fort Knox?
By Atlantic Provinces Numismatic Association | Tuesday, 8 November 2011
This question, to my surprise, has two different answers from two different sets of people who don't seem to get convinced with each other's views.
Fort Knox, a U.S. military base, is also home to the Bullion Depository better known amongst masses as the Gold Vault of the U.S.A. It was built in 1936 and started operations in 1937 when the process of shifting gold to the depository started in January to proceed to transferring most of the U.S. gold to the site. It has also stored other valuable belongings at various times like original Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, reserves from European countries during World War II and Manga Carta, key documents from western history, the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, three volumes of Gutenberg bible and specimens of Sacagawea Dollar coins of 22kt gold.
The security, not to mention, is prime and best established. This two level vault has a door weighing 24.6 tons, walls made of granite and the strength of the building can be estimated with the building materials used which include 16,000 cubic feet of granite, 750 tons of steel, 670 tones of structural steel and 4,200 cubic yards of concrete. No visitors are allowed and no one person has access to all the combinations of the vault, the entry being allowed only on president's orders. The facility is classified to an extent to have been visited by only two presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.
Now the main question, the actual gold reserves at the bullion depository. According to the information from the US department of the treasury about the U.S. mint, the present holdings of gold at Fort Knox are 147.3 million ounces at $42.22 per ounce book value. This is stored in the form of 368,000 gold bars of 400 troy ounces or 27.5 pounds of weight. The highest amount in this century has been 649.6 million ounces in 1941 that is amount enough to make 20 Statues of Liberty of pure gold. It is also stated that no gold has been moved from the facility except small amounts for purity checks during scheduled audits.
And here's an alternate answer, the conspiracy theory that keeps coming up in the form of allegations by people like Edward Durrell and Tom Valentine who suggest that the gold from Fort Knox was secretly sold and sent to London by president Lyndon Johnson in 1967 and 1968 to keep the prices of gold stable. Mr. Durrell suggested in 1970's that only 1000 tonnes out of the 8,500 tonnes remained at the Fort Knox. The facts supporting these claims are no audit of this gold reserve since 1950 and no concrete explanations for the same. There are people who suggest that the huge amounts of gold being borrowed and loaned in the market suggests and endless increase in the gold trading activity which is only possible with the amounts of gold from Fort Knox being released in the market. Some other contentions published in 2001 by Freemarket Gold & Money Report suggest that all the gold reserve at Fort Knox has been reclassified without any prior notification to the public about the same.
The gold stored at the Fort Knox is not called the "Gold Reserve" any more. It is called "deep storage gold" the implications of which are questionable. The point raised is if it does not remain the U.S. Gold reserve anymore and if it is, then why is the label changed. Tom Valentine was an independent journalist and a key string of the alternate press in 1970's that led to the partial audit of Fort Knox. There are suggestions that only a single vault was opened as a part of the audit and it did not have the expected amounts. Only some poor quality gold probably melted from the gold coins that were seized in 1934 was found.
The facts on paper however remain to be the most dependable answer which is the current value of gold holdings at 147.3 million ounces and no complete audits since 1950's.
This article is part of the Collection of short articles for beginners from the Atlantic Provinces Numismatic Association.
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