With the warm glow of that fact making me smile as I type, Dave made a great point about gold to a caller the other day. The question was about the value of gold in a collapsing economy. That is, if fiscal doomsday comes and the dollar becomes nothing but worthless paper, wouldn't it be great to own gold? Dave's reply was, "No."
The deal is this. If a nation's economy falls apart, people are going to want to be able to feed themselves. The folks with the staples of life are going to be rich, not the ones with bags of gold nuggets. For example, in New Orleans after Katrina, the people with drinkable water were king. In Zimbabwe, it's the ones who have gasoline.
The currency of choice in a country where the money has devalued down to nothing is whatever people need - food, water, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc. Gold doesn't do anything at all for you. Dave claimed that in no nation since the fall of the Roman Empire has gold replaced a paper currency during financial collapse. I doubt the citizens of Weimar Germany were regularly walking into stores and buying bread with gold dust.
Having said that, gold would allow you to carry your wealth from one financial regime to the next. Real estate might be a close second, but as Zimbabwe has shown us, your home ownership is at the mercy of the local thugs should things really break down. If you have to flee, you can't take the land with you. Gold, on the other hand, is portable in small enough amounts. Once the nation stabilizes and a new government and new currency is in place, the gold can be cashed in and your wealth at least partially restored.
Between regimes, however, that gold isn't going to do too much for you.