Once the US gold reserves mounted, the government picked out Kentucky and decided to use the existing Fort Knox US Army Garrison extended over 42 acres (17 ha) to open the new US Bullion Depository. After opening in 1937, the first gold shipment arrived from Philadelphia by US Mail!
Nowadays, Fort Knox is the primary US treasury of gold reserves. However, some state gold is also deposited in West Point, New York, and Denver. So let’s discover how much gold is in Fort Knox nowadays.
How Much Gold is in Fort Knox?
Nowadays, Fort Knox is the most secure vault worldwide. This building made of concrete walls and framed in steel keeps approximately 56.35% of the Treasury’s stored gold.
On July 31, 2020, 147.3 million ounces (almost 4,600 metric tons) of gold worth over six billion dollars were stored in Fort Knox. Keep in mind that this estimated value is a book value based on an officially set fixed price in 1973.
If you want to calculate the current market gold reserve value stored in Fort Knox, you will reach an impressive $190 billion.
The US gold reserves
|US mint||Book value||Gold|
|Fort Knox||$6,221,097,412.78||147,341,858.382 troy ounces|
|West Point||$2,282,841,677.17||54,067,331.379 troy ounces|
|Denver||$1,851,599,995.81||43,853,707.279 troy ounces|
Unfortunately, it is only a small part of the highest historic gold holdings from December 31, 1941. At that moment, the US gold reserves amounted to 649.6 million troy ounces.
Each bar deposited in Fort Knox weighs approximately 400 troy ounces (440 avoirdupois ounces, 27.5 troy pounds, or 12.4 kg). Therefore, it is considered a US asset with a book value of precisely $42.22 per one ounce.
To make it quicker to calculate, you need to know the units of measurement used for gold:
As you have known, it is a widely used unit in the US to measure various items, but never precious metals.
1 avoirdupois ounce = 437.5 grains = 28.349 g
It is a bit heavier than a regularly used ounce and widely used to measure precious metals.
1 troy ounce = 1.09714 standard ounces = 31.1 g
As you can guess, the standard gold bar has established dimensions. It is always 7 by 3.625 by 1.75 inches (17.78 x 9.2 x 4.5 cm) large.
Contrary to common doubts, Fort Knox Bullion Depository is not a production facility. It is only a well-kept depot for storing the US precious metal bullion reserves and other valuables.
Fort Knox was also a place for storing items, like:
- Magna Carta
- Crown, scepter, orb, sword, and cape of Stephen, King of Hungary, until returning to Hungary in 1978
- Gutenberg Bible
- Gettysburg Address
- Opium and morphine during the Cold War
Fort Knox Bullion Depository History
Fort Knox is one of ten forbidden places in the US, and no one can visit it.
This year, necessary land for the future Fort Knox Bullion Depository was transferred from the military to the US Mint possession. In August, Congress authorized that transfer and designated the land for storing the US precious metal bullion reserves.
Building construction for the bullion depository was completed in December. The structure was made of:
- 16,000 cubic feet of granite
- 670 tons of structural steel
- 750 tons of reinforcing steel
- 4,200 cubic yards of concrete
This place has a bomb-proof roof and 21 inches (53.5 cm) thick main door weighing 20 tons. The final cost of this building was $560,000. On July 22, Congress approved the bullion depository establishment after passing the Deficiency Act.
The first gold shipment came to Fort Knox by US Mail on January 13 from the Philadelphia Mint.
During WWII, Fort Knox was the place for protecting founding documents, including:
- Declaration of Independence
- Bill of Rights
These documents were returned to Washington, DC, in 1944.
Only President Franklin D. Roosevelt and authorized personnel had permission to access the vaults. In fact, he was the only US president who came inside Fort Knox ever.
At that time, many people believed that gold from Fort Knox has disappeared. Therefore, the strict rule was broken, and the vault opened for a Congressional delegation and journalists for the first time on September 23.
The vault was opened to non-authorized personnel for the second time on August 24. Privilege to visit this place received:
- Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin
- Secretary Steve Mnuchin
- Congressional representatives
Significance of Fort Knox
The US Department of the Treasury owns all gold from Fort Knox. The question is why this place still exists after President Richard Nixon officially abolished the gold standard in 1971. There are two probable reasons for that:
- The stocks kept in this vault are so vast that they could destabilize the entire world economy after the sudden bullion sale
- The simple gold politics
The problem is the gold amount the US keeps in Fort Knox. If the government ever considered selling all that gold, its value would fall instantly and cause chaos in the marketplace.
Besides, this gold is not crucial for the US monetary system but only an advantage of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. The gold in Fort Knox is among the world’s most significant bullion holdings, but it is actually only a tiny part of the US total assets.
Believe it or not, these 147.3 million troy ounces of gold are almost negligible compared to a $13.8 trillion GDP economy. In other words, these large gold reserves offer some confidence to investors, but they are not substantive but more symbolic.
Countries Controlling the Most Gold
World nations have 34,700 tons of gold reserves, based on estimates from January 2020. They are crucial for stabilizing the currency and fighting against hyperinflation.
However, not all countries have gold reserves. It is estimated that only 25 nations hold over 80% of the world’s national gold reserves. Some of them are among the top gold producers, like the US, China, and Russia, while others buy this precious metal from other countries.
National central banks’ gold holding
|Country||Percent of foreign reserves||Foreign reserves in tonnes|
|January, 2020||April, 2021||January, 2020||April, 2021|
|The US||77.5%||79%||8,133.5 T||8,134 T|
|Germany||74.5%||76%||3,362.4 T||3,364 T|
|Italy||69.3%||71%||2,451.8 T||2,452 T|
|France||64.5%||66%||2,436 T||2,436 T|
|Russia||22%||23%||2,295.4 T||2,300 T|
|China||3.3%||3%||1,948.3 T||1,948 T|
|Switzerland||5.4%||7%||1,040 T||1,040 T|
|Japan||3.1%||3%||765.2 T||765 T|
|India||6.5%||8%||687.8 T||658 T|
|Netherlands||67.4%||71%||612.5 T||613 T|
With 14% of global gold production in 2016, China became the largest gold producer worldwide. Besides ten National central banks that hold the highest amounts of gold, the list of 25 countries with respectable gold reserves in January 2020 includes:
- Turkey with 428.7 tonnes of gold reserves or 21.8% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Taiwan with 422.4 tonnes of gold reserves or 4.3% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Kazakhstan with 386.5 tonnes of gold reserves or 67.1% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Portugal with 382.5 tonnes of gold reserves or 76.8% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Uzbekistan with 333.7 tonnes of gold reserves or 56.7% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Saudi Arabia with 323.1 tonnes of gold reserves or 3.2% of total foreign exchange reserves
- The United Kingdom with 310.3 tonnes of gold reserves or 9.3% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Lebanon with 286.8 tonnes of gold reserves or 27.3% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Spain with 281.6 tonnes of gold reserves or 19.1% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Austria with 280 tonnes of gold reserves or 56.1% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Poland with 228.6 tonnes of gold reserves or 9.3% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Belgium with 227.4 tonnes of gold reserves or 39.5% of total foreign exchange reserves
- The Philippines with 197.9 tonnes of gold reserves or 11.2% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Algeria with 173.6 tonnes of gold reserves or 11.6% of total foreign exchange reserves
- Venezuela with 161.2 tonnes of gold reserves or 81% of total foreign exchange reserves
Best Guarded World Bank Vaults
As you can guess, the best-guarded vault worldwide is Fort Knox, but a few others also have excellent, practically impenetrable security. It is vital since Global Central banks purchase enormous gold amounts each year.
Global Central banks gold purchase
|2010||79 metric tonnes|
|2011||481 metric tonnes|
|2012||569 metric tonnes|
|2013||624 metric tonnes|
|2014||584 metric tonnes|
|2015||577 metric tonnes|
|2016||390 metric tonnes|
|2017||375 metric tonnes|
|2018||656 metric tonnes|
|2019||650 metric tonnes|
|2020||273 metric tonnes|
Besides the US Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, the list of impenetrable bank vaults includes:
- The New York Federal reserve vault
- The Bank of England gold vault
- The London silver vaults
- Teikoku bank
- The gold vault in Dubai
- Swiss vaults
- The Iranian gold reserve
- The Antwerp diamond center
Fort Knox is probably the most famous bullion depository in the world. A hardcore building surrounded by a steel fence holds about 147.3 million ounces (4,600 metric tons) of gold.
Since each of a few staff members know only their own combination of several necessary for opening the vault, no one can enter inside independently. That makes this place the most secure deposit vault worldwide.