Gold has been widely used throughout the world as a store of value and for monetary exchange. The earliest gold standard was literally Gold coins. Later a gold standard was implement in the form of gold-convertible paper instruments where the value of the paper instrument represented a specific amount of Gold on reserve. Gold coins are well known since 700 BC in Europe. Generally it is believed it has been used for over 3000 years. 

Although the gold market is still large, compared to fiat currency based markets it is now only a fraction. In order to fund the War effort during World War I money became fractionally backed by gold. Following the Second World War the Bretton Woods system came into form, reducing Gold's role further. It has now been almost totally replaced by fiat currency, with Switzerland dropping their gold standard before the year 2000 due to the IMF. 

 Gold still forms the backbone of bank reserves in some countries and is highly valued across the world. Despite repeated attempts to remove it's monetary links Western central banks are now BUYING gold (which signals a complete reversal of their previous direction!) and central banks accross the world are repatriating their gold reserves in order to ensure the integrity and safety of their holdings. In the meantime it is widely suspected that China has been secretly building its Gold reserves and reducing its exposure to the US Dollar... See here

As fiat currencies start their inevitable decline Gold is a consistently demanded reserve asset. You can buy vaulted gold in locations worldwide at low cost using BullionVault from as little as 1 gram.  It is safe, trusted by 10's of thousands of customers worldwide 24 hours a day to easily buy and sell Gold and Silver.

You can also use BullionVault to buy gold at a huge discount using a Gold SIPP, giving you GOLD AT UP TO 40% DISCOUNT. This is an unbelievable deal for higher rate tax payers,  but even at 20% discount it seems incredible.

Gold is widely trusted as a hedge against banking crashes or deposit "tax" theft. Gold coins produced in the UK by the Royal Mint with face value are exempt from CGT (capital gains tax).
Subpages (1): Evidence for Gold