Silver Dealer Tries to Charge me an Enormous Premium

old dimes and quarters
Dimes, quarters and half-dollar coins minted in 1964 and earlier, are 90 percent silver. Known as "junk silver," they are recommended for preppers.

On the same day that I went to Sam’s Club, I stopped in a coin store to buy some junk silver. I had come prepared with eight $100 bills in my pocket. My plan was to buy $40 of pre-1965 silver coins.

Once again, I knew the melt value, which was about $4.10 per quarter, or 16.4 times face value.

So I drive through the seedy downtown of a relatively unfamiliar city, following my GPS to the coin store. I’m wearing my Glock, because $800. I get a parking space almost right in front of the store.

Inside it’s not crowded with people, but it’s crowded with junk. Not junk silver, but coin and stamp collecting junk. Books, albums, displays, tube holders, picture frames. I don’t see anyone working behind the counter. I wander through until I see an older gentleman in the back. My first thought is, they have poor security; this would be an ideal target for a mash and grab robbery.

This is how it goes:

“What can I do for you?”

“I’d like to buy some junk silver. I prefer quarters or half dollars.”

“Ok.” He makes no move to show me some junk silver.

“What are you selling it at?”

“What do you normally pay?”

“I paid twenty times face about a week ago.”

“Well, you should go back there. We sell it at 25 times face.”

Too Expensive

That’s more than I would pay on eBay, and eBay charges the seller all kinds of fees. I should have left right then. Instead, I argued.

“Seriously? Melt is about 16 times face. You’re going to charge me a 50 percent premium?”

That kind of pissed him off. “We’re not a pawnshop. This isn’t a flea market.”

It’s apparently not much of a coin store either. I was beginning to wonder if he had any junk silver in the place. I decided to switch gears. “Do you have any one-ounce silver Canadian Maple Leave coins?”

“No, we don’t mess with those.”

I felt like asking, what does he mess with? He didn’t offer me Silver Eagles or any other coins, so I left. Happily, my truck full of Sam’s Club groceries was still there.

Now I have $800 in my safe waiting until the next time we go to a city, but no additional silver.

Be an Educated Shopper

If you are buying silver, be careful. Paying an extra $1 or $1.25 for a pre-1965 quarter can make a big difference. If I bought at 20 times face, I would have ended up with 160 quarters for $800. If I paid 25 times face, I would have walked out with 128. That’s 32 fewer quarters.

Always be prepared to walk away when negotiating.  While I might have gone to 21 times face, I wasn’t going any higher than that.