Getting Started With Precious Metals

Precious metals are a fairly reliable investment.  The price rises and falls like anything else, but there will always be value.  They will never be worthless.

If you have some preparedness tendencies, it’s reassuring to know that you own a form of money that has intrinsic value.   In the case of runaway inflation like so many countries–from Argentina to Zimbabwe–have had to deal with, it may be the only thing you can spend to put food on the table.

Unfortunately, we’re close to the top of gold and silver prices.  Ten years ago, gold was selling for $320/ounce and silver was $4.76/ounce.  At this moment, they are $1572.82 and $27.28, respectively.  Those prices can make it hard to break into precious metals as an investment.

But there’s a cheaper way.

It’s called junk silver.  Junk silver is the term used when you’re talking about coins with real silver that have no–or very little–collectible value.  Their value is based on the silver they contain.

Silver coins used to be the standard.  Until 1964, the U.S. made it’s dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollar coins out of 90% silver.  Our money had real value, then.  Now, they are mostly copper, with a bit of nickel to make it the right color.

Since real-money coins have been out of circulation for 50 years, they can be hard to find in the wild, but it is easy to check a pile of change.  You don’t have to look at the dates, just stack up the coins and look at the edges.

Silver Metal

With real money, the coins are silver the whole way through, like the first picture.  With modern “put your faith in the government’s promises” money, you can see the copper shining through.   It’s astounding quick to scan through hundreds of coins to yank out the silver.

Is it worth it?  How much is an old quarter worth?

A quarter weighs 1/4 of an ounce and the pre-1965 quarters contained 90% silver.

But wait.

That 1/4 of a standard ounce and silver is measured in troy ounces.  Crap, what’s the standard-to-troy conversion?

°C  x  9/5 + 32 = °F?  No.

a^2 + b^2 = c^2\!\,? No.

E = mc2?  No

One dollar of perfect-condition 90% silver coins contains 0.7234 troy ounces of silver.  Circulated, they are assumed to contain 0.715 troy ounces of silver, due to wear.  The exceptions are Morgan and Peace dollars which contain 0.7736 troy ounces of silver.

Zero point what now?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember the numbers.  Round it off and keep it simple!

For easy math, $1 of pre-1965 silver money(dimes, quarters, halves, dollars) contains 3/4 of an ounce of silver.

How does that help?

At today’s price($27.28), that $1 of coins is worth $20.46.  A silver dime is worth 1/10 of that, so $2.05.  A quarter is worth $5.12.   Easy.

Where do you buy junk silver?  Any coin shop will have it, but I usually shop eBay and APMEX.   Expect to pay a bit of a markup from any dealer.

That’s how you make precious metals investing quick, cheap, and easy.

1.  Scan your change and pull out anything(except nickels) with a completely silver edge.  Score!

2.  If you’re shopping for silver, know the price at the time, and do the math.  $1 = 3/4 of an ounce of silver.

3.  Store the silver until the world as we know it ends, then profit.

Are you hoarding silver investing in precious metals?

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  • 1 comment


    1. We haven’t looked into this very deeply yet. We’re looking more at retirement funds and real estate. Thanks for the rundown!

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