Junk silver as barter

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amusedtodeath's picture
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Junk silver as barter

I was wondering if anyone has any advice on purchasing junk silver coins to be used as exchange if there is a complete financial collaspe. I live in the UK and the obvious coinage would be pre 1947 silver, sixpences, shillings etc which are 50% silver. However I've always prefered the US "mercury dimes" which are 90% silver.This is not this countries legal tender, but neither are the pre 1947 british coinage.

I do have American Silver Eagles, and Canadian Silver Maples but in the event of a total fiat collaspe, I think these would buy too much. I think smaller coinage would be better for day to day food purchases, for example. Nny thoughts?



New_Life's picture
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UK group


Good topic, not looked into keeping coins.

Btw - Have you seen the UK group?



scum2's picture
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I've been thinking much the same thing

I too live in the UK and have been accumulating .500 (pre 47) & .925 (pre 20) british silver coins recently with just the same "barter scenario" in mind.

The counter arguement which I've heard numerous times from bullion purists is that if/when the silver spot price does spike considerably higher, it will bring so much junk silver onto the market that there won't be the capacity to get it melted down.

Personally, I think it comes down to what you believe the primary cause of the silver price increase will be, and whether you view it as more of a monetary or industrial metal? 

If you believe that silver will end up a $500/oz (or whatever) because of demand (and scarcity) for it as an industrial metal, you should probably focus on .999.

If, on the other hand, you believe in silver as a monetary metal and see it being revalued multiples higher because it gets re-monetised as a result of loss of faith in collapsing fiat currencies, I think junk silver coins start to look pretty attractive.

I'm curious as to why, as a UK resident, you prefer US mercury dimes to British coins?  Surely it's preferable to go for the coins which are most universally recognisable for their silver content in the country you reside in?

Like you, I have a mixture of .999, .925 and .500.  I consider this to be a prudent hedge to cover both scenarios.

If I had to stick my neck of and guess which factor - industrial or monetary - will be the primary driver for higher silver prices, I'd have to go with monetary.  I say this because I find it hard to imagine a world in which there's a viable market for many of the products which depend on silver, if silver really does do a "moonshoot."

ewilkerson's picture
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Pre-1965 US Silver Coins

I believe that "junk" silver will be a good tool for barter depending on how bad things get.  The point made that 1oz Maples  and Eagles may buy too much is entirely possible.  Remember, we have trillions of dollars in fiat currency which could become worthless or near worthless.

I forget where I read it, but there was a gas station in Washinton state that was giving a discount for pre-1965 payment.  I've bought both the old coins and the new 1oz. ones.

I think diversification is the best.  People who only have paper cash and have had their stocks wiped out are going to take anything of value to be able to buy themselves food.

amusedtodeath's picture
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Good point

That's a good point using old British currency at least maybe recognised by the average british citizen or there grandparents! The main problem I have with old british silver is: 1. The 90% silver are all pre 1920 which are either over valued due to historic / collectors valuation 2. The pre 1947 junk silver is plentiful but only 50% silver. I probably will end up going down the pre 1947 shillings, florins and half crown route as this makes more sense.

Great feedback everyone.Thanks!

Grover's picture
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Junk silver coins

I like to think that the future will follow the past, or at least rhyme (thanks to Sam Clemens.) Silver has always been the poor man's gold. It is the unloved bastard child until it suddenly flourishes. At that time, it outpaces gold until it trades for about 16 ounces of silver for one ounce of gold. (It currently trades for about 57:1.)

That has been what it has done in the past. For millenium, silver was about 16 times more plentiful than gold - at least in mining results. That explains why it was less valuable to citizens.

Lately, silver has been used in all manner of industrial processes, but at small enough concentrations that it isn't economical to recover at current prices. There's a few cents of silver in your cell phone, your toaster, your refrigerator. If the price of silver increased by a factor of 10, you might have a few dollars worth in your cell phone. Would that be enough to stop you from buying it? Would that be enough to make it economically viable to recycle for the silver content alone? The amount of above ground silver is smaller than the amount of above ground gold. The amount below ground (and commercially available) is slightly more than gold, but not near the ancient 16:1 ratio.

Here in the US, old timers tell me they remember gasoline costing less than a quarter per gallon. Now, it is nearly $4 per gallon. I ask them if they remember the pre 1965 quarters. Those were 90% silver. In fact, those same quarters are currently worth about $5 in fiat. It isn't the gas that has gotten expensive, it is that fiat money has gotten cheap.

I expect that silver will eventually shed it's mostly industrial image and become the poor man's gold again. Once the rush begins, the limited above ground supplies will force prices to increase dramatically. Since there isn't enough silver available to meet the ancient 16:1 ratio, silver will pause briefly (a day, a month, a year ???) at that ratio and then power through it to reflect fundamentals. It has to. If the price is too low, demand will exceed supply. Price is the great arbitrator.

So, why junk silver coins? In America, the coins still bear the markings that are used today. A silver quarter states that it is worth "One Quarter Dollar." If I trade it for a good, I've exchanged $0.25 for that good, and therefore deserve to pay tax on $0.25. A silver bar is worth its current melt price and should be taxed accordingly. Since all currency is considered equal in the State's view, I'll pay their remittance in fiat. ;-)

The bottom line is that silver will advance much faster than gold, and junk silver coins have a built in coined "value" factor that has been abused by the currency issuers. Why shouldn't I use the intentional discrepancy to my advantage?


robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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I surprised

by the amount of 40/90% silver i still find in my pocket change.

scum2's picture
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Posts: 2
VAT also a factor in the UK

I should also add that the 20% VAT on new silver bullion is also a not insignificant factor for us UK residents.

Second hand .999 coins and bars are increasingly hard to come by in my experience, and I just can't bring myself to pay VAT on bullion.  It's a principal thing more than anything.

So for me junk silver is a must if I want to buy physical.

Ronny1122's picture
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barter definition

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