Taking my Own Advice and Stacking up

A roll of Franklin half-dollars that are 90 percent silver.
A roll of Franklin half-dollars that are 90 percent silver.

I decided to take my own advice and buy some silver. Figuring I would kill two birds with one stone, I looked online for gun shows. It surprised me to learn that there were several in the state this weekend. They were at National Guard armories, hotel ballrooms, and county fairgrounds. I mapped them out and went to the closest one, which was less than two hours away.

The show had good attendance, but was not overly crowded. I only saw two people wearing face masks, and they looked very out of place.

This was the smallest gun show I had ever been to, but there was no shortage of guns. Dealers had row upon row of brand new pistols, but not much ammunition. Some of the ammo appeared to be old lots pulled out of safes or cabinets. There were lots of used rifles, including many lever action .30-30s, which I supposed is natural for hunting country like this. There were fewer tactical rifles than I usually see at gun shows in urban areas. I saw several pistol caliber carbines, including at least four Keltec sub-2000s, which is more than I can remember seeing at any show. One dealer had a Keltec P50, which I had never seen before. It is a very large pistol. I can only imagine what it weighs when loaded with 50 rounds.

Guns that are on my personal want list include a take-down Ruger 10/22 and a .357 lever action. While I saw multiple 10/22s both new and used, I didn’t see any take-down models. I did see a new Henry lever action .357. I was tempted, but it was more than $1,000 and that can buy a lot of silver. At this stage of the game, I figure I need silver more than I need another gun. While both should appreciate, silver will be more liquid and of more use if I need it to buy supplies in the future.

While I didn’t buy a gun, I did buy three 100-round boxes of CCI Mini-Mags. These shoot very well in our .22 pistols and rifle, including my wife’s gun.

Silver Pricing

I had done some research so I would not be buying silver blind. That means I knew spot silver was just over $22. I looked up the “melt” prices and learned that the value of the silver in pre-1965 coins as of Friday night was:

  • Silver Eagle: $22.25
  • Peace or Morgan silver dollar: $17.21
  • Half dollar: 8.05
  • Quarter: 4.02
  • Dime: 1.61

It’s important to note that while you might be able to sell your coins for these prices, you won’t be able to buy them at these prices. There is a dealer premium, which is how the dealer makes a profit. it is usually highest on Silver Eagles and lowest on rounds and bars.

Next, I checked prices on eBay, which I find is a good way to set the maximum I would pay in person. I also checked prices on a couple of bullion websites. I will not list any because I have no desire to promote them. For the most part, their prices were higher than eBay, but you will have less concern about fraud, counterfeit coins, or things that get “lost” in the mail.

Based on this research, I decided I would be willing to spend $700 for a roll of silver Canadian Maple Leaf coins. These one-ounce coins come 25 to a roll. Or, I would buy junk silver at up to 20 times face value. That means I would pay up to $2 for a dime minted before 1965.

Scoping out the Dealers

I found a parking spot, walked into the gun show, and walked up and down every aisle, left to right. This allowed me to scope out who was selling what.

There were only two people selling coins. One was a coin dealer, meaning all he sold was coins. He had individual Silver Eagle and Maple Leaf coins, but no rolls. Also on his table was a pile of loose quarters, a larger pile of Franklin half dollars, and two rolls of half dollars. He had a hand-written sign by the junk silver reading “20x Face.” He also had Morgan silver dollars at $35 each and walking liberty half dollars at $17 each. At mark-ups that high, I assume he was selling them for their collectable value, not their silver content or melt value.

The other dealer was a gun dealer that also sold some silver. He had neat rows of junk silver quarters, half dollars, and peace dollars. There was no price sticker, so I asked him how much they were. The Peace dollars were $35 each and the 50 cent pieces were $16 each. Now I may have been born in the morning, but I wasn’t born this morning. No way I’m going to pay double the melt value for junk silver.

To put it another way, he wanted me to pay 32 times the face value of the coin, or a 100 percent mark-up. The other dealer offered 20 times face.

I snorted and left. He handed me his card and said he had more coins in his store. I don’t think so. If you try to rip me off like that, you don’t get a second chance.

Half Dollars

Needless to say, I went back to the first dealer, where I bought the two rolls of half dollars. We opened the rolls, and I counted and examined each coin. For junk silver, they were in decent shape, not too worn. They looked good and sounded good.

Each roll is $10, so that was $20 worth of 50-cent pieces for $400. In other words, each half dollar coin cost me ten bucks in fiat currency. That just goes to show you how much inflation there has been since 1964. Our dollar now buys only one twentieth of what it did 57 years ago.

Overall, I was satisfied with my purchase, even though the dealer made about $80. It cost me less than I would have paid online and there are no insurance or shipping fees. I paid cash, which made it an anonymous transaction.

Once I got home, I tucked my new coins away in my gun safe where they will stay until one of three things happens: I die and my daughter inherits them; we experience a financial collapse in which the dollar becomes worthless, and I need to spend silver to buy food or other goods ; or we experience a world-shattering disaster and constitutional or junk silver becomes the money of choice during the recovery.

More Shopping

I don’t leave the mountain too often, so when I do, I take advantage of it and go to stores we don’t have in our neck of the woods. My phone found the nearest Tractor Supply, and I stopped in. They had everything I needed for my chickens. I bought grit, two bags of the DuMor 5-grain scratch I like to give them, and some PDZ, which I am going to try in their coop for the first time. PDZ is a natural product that absorbs ammonia and minimizes odors. It is recommended on some of the chicken blogs I read.

This Tractor Supply location had the same brand of chicken feed I use, and it was $1.50 less than the general store near me where I normally buy it. I didn’t buy any at Tractor Supply because I like the local general store and want them to stay in business. If buying chicken feed from my local store helps keep them open, that is worth the extra $1.50 per bag. If we somehow reach the point where the difference becomes large enough to impact my budget, I may reconsider, but for now, I’m sticking with the general store. They are family run and shopping there keeps the money in the community.

While heading out of town, I saw a Harbor Freight sign, so I got off at the next exit and headed back the way I had come. I ended up spending only $16 on stocking stuffers. I had been hoping to buy a solar panel and use their 20 percent off any item coupon, but they were sold out.

Cash Versus Precious Metals

I like to keep some extra cash on hand for an emergency. I put $400 into an envelope and write on it “Emergency cash” along with the date and stash it in my gun safe or another location. Not seeing the money and not having a stack of twenties at my fingertips prevents me from spending it. If we suddenly need some cash for some deal, I can always rip open an envelope. By not spending the cash, we have “spare” cash on hand that we can use to pay for gasoline or other last-minute preps if the Internet stops working, the power goes out for days, or the government declares a banking holiday and no one accepts credit cards.

Between the envelopes and cash I carry, I had close to $1,500 in the house. I decided to turn some of that cash into silver to help us survive a period of inflation and what may become hyperinflation. Instead of my $1,500 buying me less and less each day, the silver will preserve the value of my money and should appreciate over time. $400 of that cash ought those half dollars. I expect to make another transaction in the near future.

Stacking silver is a new exercise for me. I feel pretty good about this purchase. I still have far more lead, but its a good start

Please remember that I recommend buying precious metals only when you already have plenty of food and other basic supplies stored away.

Video of the Day

Close to twenty years ago, I read several Rich Dad, Poor Dad books. I can’t say they radically changed my life or my retirement picture, but I can say they certainly influenced me. Here’s a recent video featuring Robert Kiyosaki in which he talks about silver versus fiat currency and how you can’t print silver, gold, or Bitcoin. Be advised that he doesn’t seem to have a high-rez camera, but his words are more important than the visual.