The gold standard was a fixed commodity standard: the participating countries fixed the physical weight of gold for money in circulation, which made it directly exchangeable with shareholders in the form of a precious metal.

In 1816, for example, the pound sterling was equal to 123.27 grains of gold, and it was, in fact, the reserve currency and the main component in the international capital market. This led to the expression "as good as gold" in relation to sterling – the Bank of England at that time acquired stability and prestige as the main body of currency control.

Among the major currencies, the US dollar adopted the gold standard later, at the end of 1879, and became the main currency, replacing the British pound when the United Kingdom and other European countries stepped aside due to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Over time, however, the strengthening of the international depression led to the fact that even the dollar moved away from the gold standard by 1933. This marked a period of collapse in international trade and financial flows before the outbreak of the Second World War.