Podcast

Peak Prosperity

A New Way to Hold Gold (2015 Update)

Right alongside the bills in your wallet
Saturday, February 21, 2015, 11:09 PM

What if you could carry and exchange gold in the exact same manner as you do with the dollar bills in your wallet?

Last year, we introduced the precious metals community to a company called Valaurum, which has developed a technology that's making this possible.

Here's the write-up from last year:

Democratizing Gold

In short, a fractional gram's worth of gold is affixed to layers of polyester, creating a note called an "Aurum" similar in dimension and thickness to a U.S. dollar bill. This gold (usually 1/10th or 1/20th of a gram) is commercially recoverable. So an Aurum offers similar potential as a coin or bar, in terms of providing a vehicle for storing and exchanging known, dependable increments of precious metals just in much smaller (and more affordable) amounts than commercially available to date.

The big idea here? In a world where a 1oz coin of gold costs over $1,200, an Aurum will let you hold a few dollars' worth of gold in a single note. If you've got pocket change, you can be a precious metals owner.

And you don't have to change your behavior. You can store and transport an Aurum in your billfold along with your dollars.

Understanding the Aurum

As the saying goes, a picture's worth a thousand words. Here's a picture of an Aurum designed for Peak Prosperity that the Valaurum team produced for us:

You'll see that with even just 1/20th of a gram of gold involved, it's enough to make the Aurum appear to be "made of" gold. The characteristic luster, color, and shine of the 24-karat gold used is immediately apparent.

The Aurum is designed to be handled in the same manner as we do with our "paper" money. And, despite having a more 'plastic' feel to it (resulting from the polyester backing), it's as flexible, lightweight, and familiar-feeling as paper currency.

The big difference, of course, is that instead of being a claim on something else, it simply is what it is: a fractional gram of gold. It can be stored, traded, or melted down just like a coin or bar.

Here's a brief video that gives an overview of the production process:

Implications

Being able to hold gold in this form is significant for several reasons. 

First, it makes gold ownership available to all budgets. Many of the world's households have been priced out of gold to date. This changes that completely.

Second, it enables the potential for everyday transactions should we ever return to a precious metal-backed monetary standard. It answers the challenge: How will you pay for your groceries with gold? With an Aurum, it's now easy.

Whether Valaurum's product emerges as the winning horse or not, the world definitely needs this type of solution (i.e., convenient fractional physical metal) to go mainstream. 

I'm very excited by this new innovation in the bullion industry, and I explore the matter in depth in this podcast. If you're similarly intrigued, it's worth the listen.

The response to last year's podcast was tremendous. It quickly became one of the most popular in Peak Prosperity's history. If the description above interests you, and you haven't listened to it already, you can do so by clicking here.

Big News

So, what's happened with the aurum over the past year? Has the concept caught on with precious metals investors?

We've invited Adam Trexler back to the program to find out. In this week's podcast, he shares with us a number of positive updates about adoption of the aurum, demand by the bullion dealer community, and product enhancement to the gold note itself.

But most exciting is this: a (small) sovereign central bank is deep in negotiations with Valaurum to replace its existing national currency with aurum notes, creating a true precious-metals backed monetary system. As best we know, this would make it the only one in existence in the world today.

If this indeed occurs, it could be a game-changer. Changes in trust and perception always begin with a non-conformist having the courage to depart from the herd's consensus. Even a small country rejecting fiat money in favor of a gold standard will catch the attention of others. And as the current currency wars exacerbate, as they inevitably will, more countries will increasingly look to adopt monetary regimes that work better. Perhaps that will be a return to gold, in this new form.

More Big News

The Peak Prosperity aurum notes we printed up last year quickly sold out. Demand was much higher than we had expected.

For those who did not have the chance to purchase any -- or for those who did, and are interested in collecting each new series that gets produced -- we have good news: the new 2015 Peak Prosperity aurum (1/10th gram) is now available for purchase. Those interested in doing so can learn more by clicking here.

And for those interested in the latest on Valaurum,  click the play button below to listen to my latest interview with Adam Trexler (31m:20s)

Transcript: 

Adam Taggart: Hello and welcome to Resilient Life podcast. Resilient Life is part of PeakPropsperity.com and it’s where we focus on practical and actionable knowledge for building a better future. I’m your host Adam Taggart and today we welcome back Adam Trexler as our guest for the program. Adam is the President of Valaurum a very interesting company that we profiled a year ago. Valaurum has introduced an entirely new way to own and hold gold. Using a proprietary technology it injects gold directly onto a polymer surface creating a note coated with gold called an aurum.

Dimension wise it’s very similar to the dollar bill as you carry in your wallet. Basically it gives you the ability to store, carry and transact or share fractional grams of gold with other people. Our earlier podcast with Adam went deep into the technology behind the aurum. It was also one of our most popular podcasts ever. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you really should its fascinating.

Today we’re going to talk with Adam about the progress Valaurum has made over the past year. Is this new form of holding gold catching on? He’s got some exciting updates for us.

Adam thanks for coming back on the show.

Adam Trexler: Thanks for having me Adam.

Adam Taggart: Oh it’s my pleasure. Well you know for those that may not have heard the first podcast we did a year ago, can you just give us a quick summary of Valaurum’s mission and the aurum product itself?

Adam Trexler: Absolutely. You know our mission is really to make gold available to all people in the world. The aurum is our vehicle for doing this. We can create a unit of gold that’s the smallest on the world market so primarily we sell 1/20th of a gram and 1/10th of a gram and people can buy about $10.00 increments of gold. That lets anybody in the world be able to own gold, have access to gold and have access to it in the physical form.

Adam Taggart: Great, great I know one of the sort of long time criticisms of gold ownership if you will is that if you ever needed to use it to transact it’s not very practical because you take a one ounce gold coin down to the store. You know at current market values that’s worth about $1,250.00 or so; it’s not like you’re going to be able to use it to buy groceries or something. But with a device like the aurum you get down into these very small fractional grams of gold and it actually becomes a very facile way to conduct commerce using gold if you so wanted to.

Adam Trexler: That’s right anybody could trade and use gold in that way and you know the other attractive thing is that it’s still very possible to buy a house with a backpack full of aurum if you have a willing seller; so there’s a -- there’s that same compression of value and at the same time a -- an ease of use that you don’t see with coin and bars when prices of gold are what they are.

Adam Taggart: Great and you mentioned earlier that the mission is to really facilitate gold ownership around the world and I assume that it’s probably even more meaningful in developing countries where culturally, historically gold is much more revered, much more respect for it as a store of wealth. But in the developing world a lot of individual households don’t have the same amount of wealth that they do in the developing world and so it’s very hard for the average household to go out and say buy a sovereign gold coin. But this you know at $10.00 or so that you mentioned a unit all of a sudden this really opens up the addressable market that can afford to buy some of these; is that correct too?

Adam Trexler: You know that’s absolutely correct and that crux is exactly what you see. You know 20 years ago if you traveled through Latin America you would see people wearing lots of gold and the reason was because in addition to the cultural factors of wealth and showing off gold as a decoration. The biggest reason is that it was a form of movable, secure wealth that wasn’t tied to a local currency. Have currency suddenly become totally stable and everybody trusts them, I don’t think so. What’s happened instead that people can’t afford to have a heavy gold ring or a necklace and still want to own gold and still believe in gold’s stability and long term value and they need an increment to get it and we believe the aurum is that vehicle?

Adam Taggart: Great, great I know you have some update on that score too but I’ll ask you about that a little bit later in the podcast. If we could though just continuing our summary here. Can you just describe briefly the production process for the aurum and how recoverable the gold that’s plated on the aurum actually is?

Adam Trexler: Sure and I would make a distinction from plating. You know plating is when you use a very particular process that’s not very controlled in terms of thickness and is quite small and I don’t mean to -- we’re using it for process which is particularly apropos. Basically what we do is we print on clear sub-straight, it’s a plastic sub-straight and that particular sub-straight and how we do the printing is proprietary. There’s some real trade secrets involved in that. So there we sputter gold atom by atom onto the plastic. It’s an industrial process that is often used for things like glass treatments but what this allows us to do is to very precisely control exactly how much gold is put down. Indeed we have 1% accuracy for thickness that’s much thinner than a human hair, that’s the level of precision you need.

Adam Taggart: Wow.

Adam Trexler: And of course when we go about this we only -- we make sure that we always have a bit more gold so we’re never under, people are interested in that and that’s the same thing.

Adam Taggart: You always make sure if you’re -- you’re going to have a few atoms extra is what you’re saying.

Adam Trexler: Exactly.

Adam Taggart: Those extra atoms are really important.

Adam Trexler: Well two of them right here.

Adam Taggart: Yeah.

Adam Trexler: So then we laminate another layer on top of it and that creates a very durable secure sandwich of gold essentially and people are very interested in is the gold recoverable and the answer is that it absolutely is. We assay our results constantly. You know we have different checks and different methods; it’s important to have more than one method for checking how much gold you’re putting down there and we do fire assays all the time where basically we burn off the plastic and recover all of the gold. So the answer is how much gold is lost in the process if you were careful about that process, none of it essentially. My engineers would roll over if they heard me say “none” but very, very, very tiny amount.

Adam Taggart: That’s what the extra atoms are for, correct?

Adam Trexler: Exactly. So we recover the gold all the time and it is completely recoverable. I would say the most important thing though is that putting gold into this form it’s much more valuable than as a lump of gold. You know if you just knocked off or cut off a little piece of the coin, you don’t know exactly how much that is. It’s not a precise weight, it’s not very holdable, it’s not very usable. But an aurum which has a very precise amount, you can trust the amount of gold that’s in it and its uniform across hundreds of thousands of aurum. That’s something that becomes a known commodity that you can deal with.

Adam Taggart: Right, just like sovereign coins, it’s a form of gold that dealers are familiar with, that they have confidence in that it’s been produced to a standard. You’re saying the same thing happens with aurums.

Adam Trexler: Exactly, exactly.

Adam Taggart: Great, great. And I know we’re kind of breezing through a lot of the technical aspects and I don’t mind doing so because as I mentioned we go into them very deeply in the first podcast that we recorded and I’ll make sure that we link to that alongside write up for this podcast. I do want to touch on one other thing that we discussed in addition to the sort of the ease of recoverability and the confidence of recoverability. But also is that I remember you talking about from a counterfeiting standpoint it are hard to counterfeit these and it’s actually easier to assess the voracity that this is indeed true gold with an aurum than it would save with a regular coin, is that correct?

Adam Trexler: It’s correct on both counts. It’s easier to assess the voracity because our gold atoms are spread very, very thin so in a bar or a coin you have a lot of area to put an adulterated metal in there and one thing I occasionally show to people an aurum unlike when you can buy a copper coins on EBay today that are gold plated and made to look like authentic bars or coins -- authentic gold bullion. That’s very difficult to do here and it’s doubly difficult because the process, features of the process are very high technology. There’s a huge barrier to entry unlike the casting of coins. And there’s just not a lot of room to inject --

Adam Taggart: Right copper, tungsten, whatever.

Adam Trexler: Exactly, exactly.

Adam Taggart: Great, well I do want to let people listening know that it is very clear that these aurum notes have gold on them, a very illustrious surface; the gold color is very pronounced. It looks like gold; it has that distinctive gold sheen and shine to it. They’re actually very beautiful as well and a lot of that depends on the design that goes along with it. We created our own Peak Prosperity ones for the podcast a year ago that were very popular and bought by a lot of users. Like we did last time we’ll show some images of these so you just don’t have to take my word for it. You can actually see what they look like and I think the difference with this years podcast is we know have people in our audience base that have actually purchased it and I’ll let them chime in on the comments section in terms of you know how pleased they are both with the form of the aurum, but also it’s function.

Adam Trexler: We’ve been very happy with how that went last year and maybe we’ll talk a bit more about that later.

Adam Taggart: Great, great. Well why don’t we get into the what’s new part of the discussion here. I know that you’ve been busy on a number of fronts. What do you have to tell us? You sort of helped introduce us to a great idea, a lot of people got excited about last year. Where have you been able to take in the ensuing 12 months?

Adam Trexler: Yeah well it’s such an exciting time for us Adam; we’ve been growing multiple ways. When I first talked to you we were such a new company and we still are a new company. It’s important to say and this is a new idea in a half trillion dollar market. You know we’re brand new and just continuing to grow and that’s very exciting. So in the ensuing 12 months we’ve built up dealers in both Canada and the United States. We’re still continuing to expand in the United States but we created relationships with a series of dealers who carry our product. We saw the aurum showcased on national TV in a campaign through the summer that was very exciting for us. We’ve continued to sell and sold more into South America, that’s been a huge success story for us. And one of the transitions that’s happened really in the second half of the year but I would say got started specifically with the Peak Prosperity podcast is we’ve just seen the demand for the product grow and grow and grow. And what that’s allowed us to do is make a huge transition. Valaurum was originally organized as a marketing and distribution company where we licensed the rights to sell the aurum and had the exclusive worldwide distribution rights. And what we’ve just completed in the last two weeks is the new license that really lets us take over the production rights as well and now we have the whole -- all of the intellectual property joined up together and we’re producing it in house. We’re working with some great partners and we just need to meet a worldwide demand that continues to grow exponentially frankly.

Adam Taggart: Great, great. So it sounds like by you know taking control of the production process you have a more control over your own destiny be I’m assuming along with that comes a greater confidence of being able to increase your production throughput to achieve economies of scale, to being to print up larger batch runs and things like that. Is that all accurate?

Adam Trexler: That’s all accurate. We started off literally with the inventors and myself and a couple other people working very hard and you know this started off as literally a garage invention. And we’ve just grown to an industrial scale and that’s been an exciting process and just really happy to be there and happy to be reaching that next level, yeah.

Adam Taggart: Good. Well it’s been exciting to watch and you and I have kept in good touch over the past year. I know we can’t name names in terms of the dealers that you’ve worked with at this point because some of those relationships are you know, continue to be struck or continue to be evaluated but I know -- I can say that they’re very large brands, both the ones that I’m aware of in the US and Canada are some of the largest bullion dealers in those countries. So it has been great to see you move from what essentially was sort of a mom and pop production process to something that’s much more formal and you know industrial now. So I’m very excited that that’s in place. I remember you know some of the constraints around the production that you know in the old days that now seem to be removed as we’re producing our next run of the Peak Prosperity aurum; so that’s been nice to see. It’s been nice to see some of the innovations that you brought to the product. I know one of them is the ability to put things like QR code on the product so you can actually you know deliver additional content information and added value through the product. Do you want to comment on any of the other sort of bells and whistles you’ve been able to add to the aurum note itself?

Adam Trexler: Yeah and some issues we do -- we end in serial numbers. The QR codes are neat for people who aren’t familiar with them it looks like a square bar code with encoded information. And what that means is anybody with a smart phone can hold up the aurum and hold their phone to it and be taken to a unique site for that aurum or that aurum issue. That’s been very exciting. How we print is in the process of changing as well and that can give us more throughput and offer more customization to our -- basically to our distributors, to our wholesalers.

Adam Taggart: Okay.

Adam Trexler: That’s exciting as well.

Adam Taggart: All right so it sounds like you’ve streamlined and improved the manufacturing process. You’re beginning to see increasingly hopefully exponential awareness of the product and demand for it as evidenced by what you’ve been hearing you know, grass roots from the world as well as some of these large partnerships that you’re striking. I don’t know too much about this next one and I’m really excited just to have you share what you can with us but it sounds like you’ve also caught the attention of some large players out there that potentially could be game changers in terms of the world’s attitude to a product like this. Can you tell me about the central bank that has approached you?

Adam Trexler: Yeah that’s been a long time in the making and politics grinds slow Adam, but we are talking to a central bank in South America. The idea that we would print at first commemorative gold currency and then gold currency at large that would be legal tender. And they’re very, very excited about it. It’s a political process. I was invited to come after the six or seven local meetings with our partners down there I was invited to come myself a couple weeks ago and have very positive meeting with the governor of the central bank. And they’re very excited to move forward. There’s additional considerations of course with making a gold currency but both people in the central bank and our contacts in the United States and Canada and Europe are very excited by the possibility of having a real gold currency again.

Adam Taggart: Well this one really fascinates myself and Chris included. You know we are huge champions obviously of some sort of hard asset backed currency. We think that the Fiat currency regimes are in the process of playing themselves out and we go back to a form of tangible backed currency and some way shape or form in the future. And really what that takes is it takes a perception shift. It really takes players to begin to say “you know what Fiat currencies have some advantages but they also have some very large disadvantages that we’re seeing play out in the world’s stage right now”. It’s time for us to go back to something that we know works and there aren’t many countries out there doing this right now. So the fact that a sovereign central bank is -- sounds like is interested enough that they’re this deep in the discussions with you guys means that they’re taking it seriously and you know I think having a player on the board that breaks from the heard, switches from a Fiat currency back to a gold standard but through an innovative solution like this which really sort of like a new take on the gold standard. I think that we’ll do a lot to create ripples that may cause others in the world to take notice. And you know we haven’t -- we talked a little bit about this at the beginning of the podcast but what I really love about the aurum is it’s ability to not be a claim note the way that when the US was on a gold standard back in the old days you had a paper note that was basically a claim on a certain amount of gold or silver which you had to bring in to exchange. I love the fact that in -- with the aurum technology the note is the precious metal. It is the precious metal backing the currency. There’s no intermediate step there.

So I wish you all the best of luck on that. I really hope you keep us in the loop on that and you know if there’s a positive development there we can bring it back on to share it with everybody. But really it’s just very, very exciting. I know things work very slowly. I know nothing is guaranteed in this world. If things were to go the way you would hope, how long or how soon may it be before we actually see this country potentially deploying this?

Adam Taggart: You know I’m laughing Adam because it does grind slowly and we are talking to them about a special occasion to launch the first notes, that would be in November of this year and while we’re -- here we are in February and that seems like almost a year away. From their point of view and our point of view it’s utterly urgent to meet that deadline. Getting this sort of political approval, getting the extra technology integrated with the aurum is a tricky problem but we think it could happen quite quickly.

Adam Taggart: Well it’s incredibly exciting to know that it’s -- you’re shooting for a 2015 date. I’ll tell you if you hit it -- if you launch this with them in November of 2016 I’ll still consider it Herculean progress.

Adam Trexler: Me too, thank you.

Adam Taggart: Best of luck to you there. All right and we’ve talked about some really exciting developments. What’s next as you look to the future? We’ve just talked about probably I’m guessing the biggest bogey on your radar which is this Central Bank launch. But what are the other things that Valaurum has focused on?

Adam Trexler: Well one of the things is we really need to continue to grow our production capacity and we have probably a dozen features that simply wouldn’t be noticeable to the average user that we’re working on, but will make it a better product. We’re trying to improve it all the time and you know if you would hold the aurum that we issued this year from the one that we issued last year you might not notice so many differences but there’s some really innovative things we’re doing with sub-straight, with color, with anti-counterfeiting that I’m very excited about. We probably increased our production capacity in the neighborhood of 4-600% from where we were at this time last year, that’s very exciting.

Adam Taggart: Impressive.

Adam Trexler: Yeah and I think we will probably be that much more again at this time next year. Certainly our customers are demanding that and that’s what we’re targeting. We’ve also been able to -- this does trickle down to the average user and can’t happen soon enough for me is we are really driving the costs down both with economy of scale and new processes; so we really want to see certainly the bullion aurum that we sell through bullion dealers. We want to see that price come down over time and we want it to become more accepted by people. So from a production standpoint those are our challenges and I’m very confident that we are making wonderful progress with them. We have some truly world experts both in the field of printing, the printing technology we use and sputtering working for us now and I think we have an exciting time ahead for that.

On the marketing side we have some real opportunities going forward with both Europe. I’d like to see more distribution throughout Europe and also in Latin America. We are in South America now but there’s many more countries and people in those countries who would desperately like to won the aurum and we want to reach them. So I think in the next 12 months we’ll be focusing on those regions and also growing our United States dealer network and then I think what we’ll start to see is building secondary production facilities elsewhere -- we’ll begin to look at that.

Adam Taggart: Fantastic, fantastic. I can tell you from the Latin and South America standpoint Chris and I were at the end of last year we were both in Mexico and Peru and we brought some aurums with us and the reception there was incredibly positive as you might imagine and you know a couple of people there who I think you know, might be potential partners of yours whose definite eyebrows raised. So I think your prospects there are quite good and again we will wish you all the best and support you in any way that we can.

So why don’t we switch quickly now just to letting folks know, we’ve sort of alluded to it a bit but we are indeed going to be launching a new peak prosperity aurum and I shouldn’t even say we’re going to we; we are making it available. It is now available as of this podcast. So if you look at the write up that accompanies this podcast you can see a link there, it will take you to the aurum’s commerce flow and it will show you basically how to put some aurums in your shopping cart and go buy them. If you’re listening to this podcast through another channel you’re not actually on the Peak Prosperity site you can type in PeakProsperity.com/aurum and it will also bring you to the same flow that I’m talking about.

With that said Adam I know that last year we had -- quite frankly we were sort of overwhelmed by the response and we’ve sold out of that product that a number of people over the past couple of months who were very eager to buy it and I had to disappoint them by telling them that we were out of stock but that we were working hard to make more. The good new is they’re now made and available. They do have a new design so for those of you that are collecting these as little commemorative parts of history, as part of peak prosperity’s own evolution you’ve got a new one to add to your collection.

Let’s see, Adam anything else to add about it?

Adam Trexler: No just that we were so excited by Peak Prosperity’s -- the listeners enthusiasm for the product and you know we just -- we frankly sold 10 times as many as we ever expected to and I know last year we had some long waits for people and that was hard for all of us. Really it was the beginning of a snowball effect that led us to where we are today and I’m very grateful for our customer’s excitement. And through that process we got to talk to a lot of people, a lot of peak prosperity -- a lot of peak prosperity audience who were very supportive and you know it was heartening to hear from so many people who understood the need for small increments of gold on the world market and it was a very exciting moment in time for my personal life as a -- you know the president of this company and I’m excited to do this new issue and excited to do it with Peak Prosperity specifically.

Adam Taggart: Adam one of the things I wanted to just briefly mention here is the -- you know the real power that the aurum has in terms of catching people’s attention and in some cases sort of turning the light bulb on in their head about sort of the permanence, the appeal, the logic behind you know at least owning some gold. I found it an incredibly useful sort of conversation starter with people who you know aren’t current precious metal owners. When the people ask me “Hey why should I own some gold or silver” it’s one of the first things that I can take out of my pocket and give it to them and I find that as they see it, they handle it there’s definitely this impact it has on them. You know is that something that you’re intending with this product by distributing it and getting it out there?

Adam Trexler: Absolutely. You know I think it’s an educative product and we -- I talked to people all the time, our customers will come up to me and say you know “I give this to my children. I give this to my grandchildren. I give it to colleagues. I give it to friends who don’t necessarily understand precious metal ownership”. They say “Oh why would I want to have something when I could just have money? Why would I want to have a thing” and then they get a bit of gold into their hands and maybe you know, you give them -- I often do this. You give them $5.00 or $10.00 worth of gold and you say this -- you now own some gold. And when they start to look at it and think “What does it mean for me to own something that has an intrinsic value” and what’s the relationship between that and other ways of holding wealth? You see the kind of gears turn in their head and they being to think about assets in the real world real differently and that’s an exciting conversation to have. It’s exciting for kids to have to see “Gosh now I own a little bit of gold” and I just think that’s the greatest thing.

Adam Taggart: Yeah I do too and I’ve even done this with my kids where I’ve taken out the aurum and then I’ve taken out a dollar and you know we’ve talked about gold once they’ve handled the aurum for a few seconds and then I ask them “So what is a dollar”? And it’s really interesting to see them puzzle over “God I thought I knew what it was, but what’s actually backing a dollar” besides the piece of paper that it’s physically printed on? And it’s a great way to kind of crack open that curiosity about -- really about sort of currencies and monetary policy and what might make a better currency than another, even with kids. So yeah, I know that you know that I had my heart a little bit broken near the end of last year because we were really trying to get this knew Peak Prosperity aurum released in time for the holiday’s so that people could actually use it as a holiday gift, as a stocking stuffer or whatever denomination you are. It’s a great way to share precious metals with friends and family in a very economical way. That got bumped but it got bumped for a good reason for the whole Central Bank opportunity that you’ve told us about. But I do commit to the Peak Prosperity audience that we will definitely have this available for holiday season 2015 so that you can play the precious metals holiday gift giver to your loved ones. And of course hopefully we’ll have the ability during the year to make our current aurum available to anybody that wants to give it to people for birthdays, graduations, celebration events, etc.

Adam Trexler: I wouldn’t like anything better Adam, sounds wonderful to us.

Adam Taggart: Excellent. Well fantastic and hopefully this year is just as much of a success as last year. We’ve also been contacted by groups that are looking to buy you know bulk orders of aurum’s because they love the product but they want to use it for financial literacy campaigns that they are doing in their own areas and I think that’s just a fantastic use of a product like this. So again, kudos to you for creating something that’s truly innovative and I think really constructive to the future of those that want to hold precious metals both here in the US and internationally. You’ve definitely outlined a litany here of both achievements over the past year and I think some pretty big goals for the next year. Adam I really look forward to having you back on a year from now and see all that you’ve accomplished since then. For those that are interested in learning more about the aurum is there a website that they can go to or news articles they can read or what would your recommendation be to them?

Adam Trexler: Absolutely we have a lot about the product on www.valaurum.com. Of course aurum is Latin for gold and people can learn more about it there and we have a bunch of links there too.

Adam Taggart: Great, all right Adam. Well we’ll wrap it up for now but we’ll talk again in our podcast in a year from now.

Adam Trexler: Perfect, thanks again Adam.

Adam Taggart: Best of luck.

Adam Trexler: Okay bye.

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24 Comments

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 14 2008
Posts: 332
I've had one of the Aurum

I've had one of the Aurum "bills" in my wallet for a year now.  I just checked it, it seems to be in pretty good shape.  I always intended to give it away as suggested by Adam (atom?), but it has stayed with me, though it has been the basis for many discussions.  I'll buy another dozen just for the novelty of it, and to support a new paradigm, even though the premium is pretty steep.  I've heard that "junk" silver- the only practical alternative- is getting hard to come by.  The 1/20th gram might be more easily "gifted"......Aloha, Steve.

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
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Nice to see it.

My brother had once tried to make pretty artwork "plaudet" bills, to accompany cash transfers, as a way of creating an anti-depression "wooden nickel".  It didn't work terribly well, but I had suggested electroplating PMs onto it.

Now I see that -- yes -- it has been done.  Good to see it. 

It's also clear to me that this was raised as an independent idea, possibly before my own voicing of it.  That then implies to me that my idea was moderately good:  probably fifty to 100 people thought of it, and one was able to carry it out.  Again, it's good to see it happened.

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rhelwig
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Practical alternatives

Junk silver isn't the only practical alternative. Shire Silver has actually been around longer and not only matches the Valaurum in having the smallest gold units at 1/20th gram, but we also have silver as small as a half gram.

I too have a valaurum in my wallet for over a year, and it has stood up very well, although I don't often handle it.

But whatever alternatives you choose to use, know that building up a network of people and businesses in your area that accept it is one of the best things you can do.

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jonesb.mta
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Posts: 126
Aurum

I don't see how it can be easier to buy groceries with the Aurum than it is with my 1/10 ounce gold eagle, in either case the buyer and the seller have to know the current spot price of gold. If I were the seller I'd be more likely to accept a gold coin that I can see is metal, rather than a piece of plastic that I've never seen before. I do think it's a good idea for replacing gold backed money with very small gold content bills but it has a long way to go for acceptance by a grocery store. For me, spot price times 2.5 is much too expensive when I consider the markup on a 1/10th ounce gold coin.

rhelwig's picture
rhelwig
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Re: Aurum

There's no way people are going to go back to using coins as money, no matter how much we fans of precious metals might wish it. They're just too inconvenient and cumbersome. That's why people preferred using bills (even if the backing was suspect) over coins. All during the 1800s people had the choice to use coins of gold and silver or paper notes, and they overwhelmingly chose paper. Heck, that's what allowed the fiat fiasco in the first place: people used the paper so much that they started thinking of the paper as the money, which allowed the banksters to pull off the switch.

And please don't confuse bullion with money. A one ounce gold coin, or even a tenth ounce coin, isn't money; its a commodity that can act as a store of wealth or a hedge. It doesn't have that utility that the Valaurum or Shire Silver has. By making the precious metal be in a form that people will actually use it adds tremendous value.

Think about this: do you complain to the restaurant that your salad costs more than the "spot price of lettuce"? Do you complain that your car costs more than the spot price of steel? A silicon chip costs a whole heck of a lot more than the sand it is made from. Heck, here on my desk there's a can of air - what's the markup on that?

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Big difference in value

jones -

One big reason the Valaurum would be more convenient for everyday transactions than your coin is the much smaller gold content it represents. At today's $1200/ounce spot price, your 1/10th ounce coin contains $120 worth of gold (at spot, ignoring premium), whereas the gold value in a 1/10th or 1/20th gram aurum note is 30-60 times less = a few dollars worth (again, ignoring premium). Much easier for everyday purchases.

Second, the handling of an aurum note vs small bullion coins is night and day. As described in the podcast, an aurum note is pretty much the same dimensions as the currency notes we're all used to (several commenters have already mentioned they indeed carry them in their wallet). While there exist some gold bullion coins and wafers in 1 gram or 1/2 gram sizes, have you ever held one of them? They're tiny. Extremely easy to lose and very difficult to handle given how small they are.

Third, the premium over spot we pay (anywhere) for gold bullion goes up as size increments become smaller due to the relative amount of production cost per unit value. Look at the difference in premium-to-spot between a 1oz coin, a 1/10 oz coin, and a 1 gram coin, and you'll see this clearly. At fractional gram units, Valaurum's "double spot" pricing for us is actually quite good given the natural cost curve.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Posts: 4547
Aurum Utility

The Aurum is obviously a very new concept and has a ways to go to gain a true foothold in minds and hearts of a critical mass of people.

But the idea is simple enough...creating money with intrinsic value that people can immediately relate to (because it is in a familiar bill form) skips over several important barriers to acceptance.

Until widespread acceptance happens I have found the Aurum to be an incredibly effective conversation starter.  When people handle one they immediately get that look in their eye, the same one as when I hand them a gold coin, which is a combination of cool! and hey I can tell this is real.

I've handed them out to people I consider to be important to sway, or who may influence others, and seen them in their possession a year later.  The point being, people hang onto them.  

Considering what's at stake, I regard $10 (or less) to be a cheap investment if I can reach someone who might otherwise be difficult to engage.  It's proven to be way more effective than handing them a book they may or may not read, and certainly won't carry around showing to other people.

The Aurum cuts right to the chase and contrasts starkly with existing currency in a way that is most unflattering for fiat currency.  That is, the Aurum physically represents a very powerful and important set of ideas.

If you don't know how to broach the wider Crash Course narrative with someone who is important to you, consider the Aurum.  It speaks for itself, and can lead to some great conversations...at roughly the cost of a single movie ticket.

JohnLevering's picture
JohnLevering
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Has been interesting to carry in my wallet

I got a Peak Prosperity Aurum after the podcast last year and have been carrying it in my wallet ever since.
It has been an interesting conversation piece and indeed may be a fungible, reasonably sized stable currency in the future with a real value not tied to any nation, central bank, etc.

For what it is worth, and taking into consideration that it was mentioned in the current podcast that production technology has improved, I just noticed, upon close examination that where the Aurum was folded in my wallet that it is delaminating, but none of the gold appears to be lost. Nothing like field testing.

Regardless, I still feel like it may be a very practical currency in the future.

Boomer41's picture
Boomer41
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Posts: 117
Digital Valaurum

I carry around a Valaurum note and a Queen Victoria Sovereign coin. They are both great conversation pieces. The nineteenth century coin causes more interest because of its obvious history. Many people find the sovereign absolutely fascinating, especially when we discuss how its purchasing power is essentially unchanged from the date it was coined.

Most people are easily convinced that gold is a good way to preserve wealth, but it is not so obvious how gold translates into credit (or debit) card transactions, which are the prevailing means of payment for retail purchases.

I know for a fact that my local bank carries very little in the way of banknotes on the premises. The vast majority of their business is in digital currency. How does Valaurum fit into that scenario?

Bankers Slave's picture
Bankers Slave
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Posts: 438
In an effort to enlighten work colleauges

I produced a £100 bank note and a £100 coin (gold brittania) asking them which, if they had the choice, one would they pick to spend. All three chose the bank note. 

Introducing the Valaurum at this point might cause much confusion. 

Its a work in progress.

pat the rat's picture
pat the rat
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
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Posts: 63
aurum

Glad to see that you are returning to the aurum. The ones we have are like the first edition,rear is the word.Glad to here about South America, change is now coming!

blackeagle's picture
blackeagle
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What about premiums in the future?

If the Aurum gets wide acceptance and use, may be we should expect lower premiums as manufacturing costs will be lower?

@Jones. Actually we speak about gold spot price because we use fiat currency. if we switch to gold as money, then I think gold spot price will be meaningless in everyday use as goods will be priced in this new money.

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AKGrannyWGrit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
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Posts: 268
The Bells Are Ringing

My "Common Sense O'Meter" is going off. 250% over spot, someone is making money here and it ain't we little middle class folk. A rich mans' conversation piece I think. Glad you all are excited about the offer though.

We Middle and Lower Middle Class are trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between the issue these days of "more month than money". There are great "Buy, Sell, Trade" Facebook sites out there for us struggling people. Guess we have different conversations.

AK GrannyWGrit

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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Posts: 2294
The Details on The Premium

Let's clear things up.

First off, the premium is not 250% over spot. If you buy less than 10 at today's prices, the premium you pay per aurum is 159% over spot. If you buy 10 or more, the premium you pay per aurum drops to 107% over spot.

Now, that still may seem like a lot. But as I commented earlier:

the premium over spot we pay (anywhere) for gold bullion goes up as size increments become smaller due to the relative amount of production cost per unit value. 

Now, let's look at the premiums for other small-increment bullion products. The premium-to-spot on the average 1 gram coin or wafer is 34%. For a 0.5 gram coin/wafer, the premium-to-spot jumps to 77%. So the premium jumps by 2x as the denomination is cut in half. Of course, this is an exponential process, not a linear one, so we should expect a 1/10th gram to have a premium substantially higher than twice 77%. With this math, the 159% premium-to-spot for the 1/10th gram aurum actually looks pretty good. And the 107% premium-to-spot price per aurum if you buy 10 or more looks extremely generous.

Bottom line: you do not buy very small-increment bullion products to get the best premium-to-spot price. If you're looking for that, buy 1oz Krugerrand coins or higher denominations of PAMF Suisse bars. Of course, you'll need to shell out at least $1,255+ at today's prices.

You buy very small-increment gold bullion products for the smaller value. Usually, as a hedge in case you ever want/need to use them to transact for everyday purchases.

Valaurum's aurums enable you to do that for transactions of <$10, the smallest of any provider that we're aware of. This is not a "rich man's" product. Quite the contrary. For just $10, nearly anyone can give themselves some piece of mind that, should there be a collapse of fiat currency, they'd hold a form of money that may still buy a meal (or more, as the relative value of gold would likely skyrocket in such a situation).

I challenge anyone here to find a superior offering at the extremely small increments that Valaurum offers (1/10 gram and 1/20 gram). By superior, I mean lower premiums, ease of handling, high product integrity and standardization, and anti-counterfeit protection. If you find one, I'd sure love to see it.

Simply put: if you're interested in having the ability to make very small price transactions using physical gold, do you have evidence of a better solution that this? I don't.

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
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Posts: 268
Details on The Premium

Thanks for making that correction Adam.  Since I am not good at math I got that number from the link that says "click here" so it wasn't a calculation I made but one that was displayed. Fortunately that number has since been corrected.

This offering is novel, fun, and as stated above makes sense to many.  Unfortunately, belonging to a different cohort than most I would like to propose that in a SHTF scenario a lot of the people I know, and those in my demographic may not so eagerly accept an Aurum as payment much less know what one was, perhaps on a going forward basis that will change. They would make great gifts for the kids though.

I seem to be the loan skeptic here, sorry I couldn't provide unanimous enthusiasm but then being a curmudgeon runs in the family.

AK GrannyWGrit

kevinoman0221's picture
kevinoman0221
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Joined: Sep 25 2008
Posts: 141
Just ordered a dozen; can't

Just ordered a dozen; can't wait to hold them in my hands! Thanks for bringing this to us, Adam and Chris.

a (small) sovereign central bank is deep in negotiations with Valaurum to replace its existing national currency with aurum notes

Hmmm, could a drachma-laurum be on the horizon?? ;)

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davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 3360
seignorage

There is always a profit the government makes when they crank out currency, regardless of what its made from - or else the government stops using that thing, like they did with silver in the 1960s.  For large sections of the time when silver coins were minted, they were selling for perhaps 50% of spot.  Each Peace Dollar had 0.77 troy oz of silver.  It would have required silver at $1.30 for it to be properly priced as a bullion coin.  In fact, during the depths of the Depression, those Peace dollars contained only $0.24 in silver.

That's the difference between something being "legal tender" (i.e. even silver coins are part "fiat") and as such are worth more than melt value once declared legal tender by the government.

pollux's picture
pollux
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Posts: 9
Perfect gift to my kids

Thanks for sharing all this information, Adam!

This will be a great gift to my three teenage kids - so I've completed an order for a batch to be sent to Sweden. My kids are only partly aware of my skepticism toward the current economic and monetary order. I believe this will be a tangible and memorable way of telling them something important about real money.

And I have no problem with the so called mark-up. The company adds value (and have considerable costs) through an innovative industrial process. Of course, they need to be compensated for those costs.

jgritter's picture
jgritter
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2011
Posts: 265
Curmudgeon

I'm with you on this one Granny.  I think it may be hard enough to get someone to take my difficult to counterfeit pre 1964 quarter,  I'm a little skeptical that the anyone is going to be very enthusiastic about transacting business with something that looks like an easily counterfeitable candy wrapper.  I must admit to a little bit of a "Do I look stupid?" reaction to the premium as well.  159% over spot for the hip, new, shiny, plastic, "Gee whiz" product or 3% over spot for grubby, pedestrian and oh, so last century, silver pocket change.  This country bumpkin is going to go with what's know to work a little bit longer, though I'll be watching with interest.

My 2 cents from the pucker brush, 

John G.

baregil's picture
baregil
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Posts: 1
Aurum

Aurum will be hard to use in daily life to pay for goods and services, simply because the price of gold fluctuates every 10 minutes and users will not be able to know what the value is at every given moment.

metaforge's picture
metaforge
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Posts: 3
only while the dollar matters

At some point, if/when people stop caring about the dollar, then it won't matter what the USD price of gold is - aurum notes could just be traded directly on their gold content / face value.

metaforge's picture
metaforge
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Posts: 3
I get it - it's cool - but...

I see the utility, especially in a post-USD collapse world.  But at this point, my goal is to preserve as much of my wealth as possible, and to do that, I want to minimize my over spot charges.  I get Adam's point as to the utility value of why it is over spot, of course, but still the fact remains that if I have $X today, I would be losing a lot of my wealth to the over spot charge vs. buying 1oz sovereign coins with more like a 4% premium over spot.

I probably would not be a buyer other than for the novelty sake until the over spot gets down to around near the over spot of a standard 1/10oz coin (about 12% right now) - maybe I'd go up to 25% over spot, but no higher.

I wonder if there are plans to do similar implanting of other precious metals?  Silver?  Platinum?  Palladium?  That would be cool & add some variety.

David Huang's picture
David Huang
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 20 2010
Posts: 41
Aurum cost compared to gold leaf

I make my living as an artist, creating works in which gold leaf is a prominent feature.  Naturally when I see the thin Aurum "sheets" of gold I connect and compare it to the gold leafing I regularly buy and work with.  I had never really sat down to calculate the cost per gram of the leafing I use, but decided to do so today and thought I'd share the results here to offer a different perspective on the premiums with the Aurum.

I purchase my leafing by the pack, which is 500 sheets.  What I'm getting is 23-karat rather than 24-karat, and the brand I use weighs 8 grams per pack of 500 sheets.  I'm currently paying about $850 per pack.  This is a wholesale price.  I would be paying significantly more if I were buying it by the book (25 sheets).  I could probably get a bit better price if I bought in much greater quantities.

Anyway, 8 grams for $850 works out to $106.25 per gram.  With the Aurum purchased individually the cost of a 1/10 gram unit would be $100 per gram, while buying 10 of the 1/10 gram units would get the lower price of $80 per gram.

So while I would certainly be happy to see the premiums drop on the Aurum in the future, from my perspective they are in line with wholesale gold leafing prices, the other common, thin, low weight gold product out there. 

Richardnbirch's picture
Richardnbirch
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 5 2014
Posts: 1
UK Bound

Hi Adam

thanks for sharing this- 10 UK bound.

I've a rough idea of what a post-economic collapse may look like- these may slot nicely into preparations.

Hedge your bets and preserve accordingly..  plus the kids will love 'em.

I echo metaforges query of implanting other pms..would be very cool!

Also looking forward starting some meaningful conversations when handed out

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