Inspired by this post by Koos Jansen, which included a chart back to 1999 of earmarked (custodial) gold held by the US Federal Reserve Bank for other central banks, Nick Laird at Sharelynx went sleuthing for more data and was able to pull together from multiple sources data going back to just before 1880.
The resulting 135+ year chart of the US Fed's custodial gold, as well as the US' gold reserves, provides a fascinating insight into gold's monetary role. I have an article in the latest journal of the Gold Standard Institute featuring the chart and providing some commentary.
One of the more interesting periods is 1950 to 1965, during the Bretton Woods. While the total amount of gold held by the Fed over these 15 years was relatively stable at 25,000 tonnes, in 1950 only 15% of the gold stored in the Fed was owned by foreign central banks but by the end of 1965, 48% of the gold was owned by foreigners. Any guesses why?
Also of interest is the spate of recent withdrawals, which Koos Jansen has speculated are repatriations by Germany. Since June 2013, 75 tonnes has been withdrawn and if all are related to Germany, then they are on track with their plans to transfer 150 tonnes from New York to Frankfurt by 2015 and another 150 tonnes by 2020.
You can find my article the Gold Standard Institute's November journal here.