Let's say I buy a 1 kg gold bar right now for 1 Bitcoin. I put it in my safe. Then the entire "modern world" collapses the next day, and I have to defend my home and my few valuable pieces of property in this new world... And there's my 1 kg gold bar.

I can't trade the entire thing in for food or help. Then I'd have no gold bar anymore. I'd need it to be, like, a thousand or more very small bars, or minimal coins, or round "nuggets", for my gold to actually be useful.

What's the use of storing a huge single gold bar when you'd just end up not being able to use it except for some major one-time purchase?

I've never seen anyone store or sell little convenient "trading nuggets" or "trading coins" in pure gold for the purpose of allowing what I describe above.

It's not like I can use a cheese slicer on the gold bar each time somebody wants to be paid, or file off some gold dust... That's just silly.

Isn't this a very much overlooked problem for all those who store gold to protect themselves against that kind of future? Do they just assume that there will be time and opportunities for them to safely trade that huge single gold bar for many small pieces of gold? Or do they plan to "cut it into pieces" themselves with some kind of tool?

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    What good would gold do you in this dystopia? Even if you had "trading nuggets" or "trading coins," why would anybody want to sell you anything for pretty metal when the world is collapsing and everybody is just fighting for supplies to survive?
    – Daniel
    Mar 2, 2021 at 4:32
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    @AakashM A good policy, and this question is a good example of something that is practical, answerable, and based on an actual problem.
    – pipe
    Mar 2, 2021 at 11:02
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    If you look in a doomsday prepper's bunker, you'll find tons of cans of shelf-stable food, probably several generators and huge drums of gasoline, lots of medicine, and probably no gold at all. The purpose of investing in gold is to insure against ho-hum everyday troubles like inflation and political instability. Not a true apocalypse.
    – Daniel
    Mar 2, 2021 at 12:19
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    Questions about some hypothetical dystopian future (instead of something based on the present day, and the most reasonable futures we can extrapolate from the past for the purposes of investing and saving) seems much more in the domain of Worldbuilding. Most of society considers doomday prepping to be in the same category as conspiracy theories and the like, and don't consider that to fall within the domain of rational financial planning.
    – NotThatGuy
    Mar 2, 2021 at 13:10

10 Answers 10


We could adapt and survive living without the internet but if society completely collapses, all the gold in the world isn't going to help you. Food, guns, ammunition, medicine, clothes, water, etc. will become the new currency.

What you will need is survival skills: How to grow/hunt food. How to survive outdoors (you won't be able to defend your home because some others will have larger numbers and better weapons). Urban areas will become death traps (disease, decomposing bodies, dog eat dog survival, etc.). Most of us will not make it.

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    @pipe if there is trade then society hasn't collapsed.
    – user253751
    Mar 2, 2021 at 11:33
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    @pipe Sure, they'll trade but why trade for this useless shiny stuff that you may, or may not, be able to convert into something useful later? Who wouldn't rather have some antibiotics, some apples, or even the promise of apples come Autumn rather than useless shiny stuff? Mar 2, 2021 at 11:48
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    What you need is a community of people who have the skills needed to survive as part of their ecosystem. Prepping alone doesn't make sense. Mar 2, 2021 at 12:05
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    @pipe You can't eat gold. Gold only works as a store of value if you can basically guarantee that the next person you want to trade with will accept gold as payment. That's fine if everyone agrees that gold is good for trading, since anyone you want to trade with also knows that they'll be able to trade it to the next person. But in a societal breakdown, there will be plenty of people who don't want gold at all since it won't help them survive, so gold winds up being worth very little, since you may not meet someone who will trade for it. Mar 2, 2021 at 14:50
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    Let's step back a bit .. sure, as B.B. reminds us, if there's literally an end of the world -like crisis these ideas are pointless. Yes, the OP's question in a rather sci-fi manner mentions utter end-days situations. Being more realistic, people (who do - and I could not care less either way) buy gold against a "crisis" mean a hyperinflation, dollar collapse, major world war, or so on.
    – Fattie
    Mar 2, 2021 at 15:20

You are right, gold bars are not very spendable. That's why coins were invented.

Coins are small, standardized bits of metal that are minted by a trustworthy entity to contain precise amounts of a valuable metal. You can get gold coins issued by the American government in sizes as small as 1/10 oz., which is worth a couple hundred dollars today. Other mints around the world make even smaller gold coins.

Even Uncle Scrooge knows the value of storing some of your gold in coin form.

Uncle Scrooge goes swimming

  • Even smaller, Canadian Maplegram's are a single gram each.
    – Hart CO
    Mar 2, 2021 at 3:46
  • @HartCO Yes, and the Swiss released a 1/500 oz (0.063 g) legal tender coin last year. Mar 2, 2021 at 3:48
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    Gold-plated tungsten coins are just as valuable if nobody can tell the difference
    – user253751
    Mar 2, 2021 at 9:22
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    a gram of gold is still $55 at today's prices. For day to day transactions in a precious metal economy you'd want a more common metal like silver ($0.85/gram) or even copper (0.74 cents/gram, $0.26/ounce) for small change. Mar 2, 2021 at 15:34
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    While cute, I don’t know how much value the image adds to the answer... 😂
    – Josh
    Mar 2, 2021 at 16:59

To actually answer your question...

  1. the normal tradable/usable gold bullion bars are "400 ounce" bars. Aka LBMA, mocattas, LGD bar, etc. (Note that as a curiosity, they are not 400 ounces, they each vary. If you're ever talking to some fool who thinks they are a gold bug and has never actually owned any bars, you can trick them with that question :) )

enter image description here

(If you wish to know why they are called LGD etc, read a boring wiki article.)

  1. the normal tradable/usable small bullion bars are one kilo bars, as mentioned in the question

enter image description here

Just as you suspect, there is a smaller size:

  1. the only tradable/usable smaller bullion is indeed one ounce rounds. You can buy and sell these instantly for very near spot anywhere in the world - at the blink of an eye.

The generally famous bullion rounds are these three: the canadian maples, the lovely aussie kangaroos (they also had a fantastic chinese year series), and the britannia.

enter image description here

Note that there are other 1 ounce gold coins which have one ounce of gold BUT they are made of an alloy (ie, the overall weight is a bit more than an ounce). These are cool and fairly easily sellable, but stick only to pure-bullion rounds (the three mentioned) for the most easily sellable situation. Got it? Good!

That's it. There are also novelty smaller sizes, but forget it.

Footnote: a 10oz size bar is somewhat popular in iconoclastic Switzerland. And indeed in enigmatic China there are certain oddball sizes that are slightly popular. But the above three are the way.

When the zombie apocalypse comes...

Let's add a little intelligence and finesse here. Sure, if there's literally like an asteroid strike it is meaningless.

What the OP means by "when the world ends" is a crisis typified by a hyperinflation - for example the German hyperinflation in the after-war years.

These happen all the time - every century or so somewhere or other.

In those times you'll be extremely glad you have lots of gold, whether ounces, kilobars or (if you're rich!) normal bars.

A trading note ...

Be aware that a couple years ago everyone with a clue was saying, buy gold, be a goldbug, it's gonna skyrocket

enter image description here

Take care not to jump on a fad which has already had a big run or run it's course.

And don't forget chain ...

enter image description here

There's already an answer here which (shock) has some facts on chain. Gold chain is a really great thing if you're a "dollar collapse is coming" type. If it's 100% you can buy and sell it very close to spot. You can also sometimes/often, uh, well, smuggle not inconsiderable value through national borders / war zones / etc. via chain.

enter image description here

Just wander in to Chow Tai Fook in Hong Kong, the spreads are incredible/nonexistent for bullion (ie pure) chain and knickknacks.

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    I would say "If what the OP means...", but other than that, this is a nice answer.
    – Bobson
    Mar 2, 2021 at 16:46

I have a friend whose grandparents escaped Communism becoming émigrées from Hungary in the 1950s, who told me that gold chains were the preferred form of value at the time.

They are easily stored relatively safely (e.g. around the neck) and links can be removed and added without too much difficulty.


Gold will be completely worthless in a dystopian future with no internet.

It certainly won’t be worth the inflated price of $2000/ounce.

If you want to survive, you should spend $50,000 on a generator, a 10,000 gallon propane tank, and a100,000 gallon water storage tank.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Mar 2, 2021 at 19:16
  • And make sure the generator is the sort that runs on propane, not gasoline.
    – Mark
    Mar 2, 2021 at 22:55

What's the use of storing a huge single gold bar when you'd just end up not being able to use it except for some major one-time purchase?

The traditional response to social upheaval is to get yourself and your gold smuggled to somewhere with less social upheaval. Once you reach a safe, reasonably stable country you simply trade your gold for the local currency as normal.

If you want something smaller to trade along the way, necklaces and rings will draw a lot less attention; any smuggler or corrupt official handed a tenth of a gold bar is liable to wonder if you'd hand over the rest with a bit of encouragement.


There are gold/silver coins in various weights. There are also breakable gold bars that you just bend back and forth to snap off into smaller increments. You can find such things by searching for "fractional gold coin","barter metals", or "CombiBar." I'm not recommending this site, it just happens to have a page with most of the options I'm familiar with: SchiffGold - Barter Metals

If all you had were larger bars then you're correct it would be problematic. You'd have to trade it for something big, find a source of high heat, or find someone that could change it to smaller increments for you. I would imagine having a variety of coins in different metals and quantities would be helpful, but the challenge of preparing for some worst-case scenario is knowing what that actually entails. It could be far more valuable to have means for purifying water or gathering/cooking food than to have some hunks of metal (some creative people have spent a lot of time thinking about such things if you want to explore the world of doomsday preppers).


A 1 kg gold bar makes an interesting paperweight, and will only cost about $55K at the current price :-)

But I expect people keeping gold around in case of that dystopian future probably buy coins, which are readily availably in 0.1 to 1 ounce sizes. A quick search shows a dozen dealers within an hour's drive of me, and I don't live in a major metro area.

  • Perhaps gold makes an interesting paperweight but it can't be fried, baked, boiled, broiled, roasted or barbecued... and then digested. Mar 2, 2021 at 16:47
  • @Bob Baerker: And your point? I have many useful things that don't meet that description.
    – jamesqf
    Mar 2, 2021 at 18:37
  • Gold holds its value largely because people think it must. Setting aside even that caveat, consider in real detail what the Conquistadores plundered from Central and South America. Whatever else he did to the Inca Empire, didn't Pizzaro first demand from his victims a roomful of gold, and when they filled a room with what to educated people might have seemed priceless works of art, demand that they beat it flat and fill the space that left? Broadly, the value of gold is purely illusory and whether the artistic process or the bullion content is worth more depends purely on the buyer… Mar 2, 2021 at 21:53

I would make a distinction between economic downfall that is localized to specific economy or even whole world vs. an existential threat that can end life in a matter of months, like a virus. If you look back at the panic of 2020 March, you’ll see that everything tanked. There was no safe heaven to preserve value. Gold and BTC both went down hard. If this was some sort of economic crisis, especially if only affected certain regions, then I would predict that at least gold would go up and probably some crypto as well. Imho, in your case, gold has almost no value at all.


In addition to the answers above I will point out the existence of the British Sovereign, which has been around for centuries and you can buy right now in various sizes and metals.

  • The standard sovereign contains 0.2354oz of gold (alloyed with a bit of other metal that nobody cares about). Half and quarter sovereigns are readily available, too.
    – Simon B
    Mar 2, 2021 at 17:11

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