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  • Country

    United States
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Profile Information

  • Gender
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    California, USA
  • Stacker/Collector

My Precious Metals

  • Metals I am interested in
  • I am interested in
    Collectible bullion & Semi Numismatics
  • My current Stack/Collection is mainly
  • What I am collecting / Investing in
  • Whats in my stack/collection
    Bars: 1 oz and 10 oz
    Coins: 1 oz Eagles, Maples, Britannias, Kangaroos, Philharmonics
    2 oz Queen's Beasts
    Rounds: 1 oz Engelhard, Sunshine Minting, various American generic rounds

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Bimetallic's Achievements

  1. If you invest based on crude hunches, you'll probably lose lots of money. People have lost lots of money on silver. A crude hunch is something like: "Silver demand and price will go up because of solar panels, electric cars, etc." That's not a valid method of knowing anything about the world, and no serious investor would ever act on that amount of cognition. To know or predict that demand will go up because of those things, you have to do research. And math. You have to find out to what extent silver is used in various products, and calculate whatever increase you expect in those products, along with any changes in the amount of silver used in those products. That last part is critical because it's dynamic, not fixed. There's no law of nature that says you have to put X amount of silver in a solar panel. The trend in precious metals use has historically been downward in electronics and other products. Manufacturers are always trying to reduce costs when they can, and engineers figure out ways to minimize things like PM. So whatever amount is used today is not necessarily going to be the same in 2030. But the key point is that you have to do research to know anything of this nature about the world. You can't know anything about future silver demand by just asserting a vague hunch. That's not anything. And if you go that route, serious investors will seriously outperform you. They'll be on the other side of those trades. Hedge funds, for example, are extremely smart and rigorous about research and data. They will find out exactly how much silver is projected in various products, and model and update it accordingly. In general, silver is a small market. Gold is fairly small compared to lots of industries, and silver is quite a bit smaller than gold. You'd be surprised to know how little bankers care about it or think about it. It's not important to them. Relatedly, if you look at where and how wealth is created in this world, it's not in metals or commodities. It's in intellectual property, in starting new companies, based on innovative ideas. That's where the billionaires come from, at least the younger ones. The Airbnb guys are billionaires, created a whole new market. Same with Uber, Amazon, Tesla, etc. If you want wealth, you have to create value, or fund people who do. You can't count on just owning a metal as a path to wealth. Maybe crypto could work out for some people, the people who got Bitcoin at a dollar or whatever, but in general speculation is iffy. Silver isn't special. It's always second fiddle to gold, and at least with gold there's a possibility of it undergirding a future cryptocurrency. That won't happen with silver. It's more of cool diversity investment. I love owning it, but it doesn't need to be the key to my life or worldview.
  2. The processes aren't very secret at this point. You can just Google silver bullion mint and refining, and you'll find lots of videos. There are videos of the RCM, PAMP Suisse, etc. There's nothing fundamentally new in minting silver coins these days – it's just striking blanks with a die, and before that the supplier is melting and refining using standard processes. I don't understand your question about affordable for beginners. Mints are industrial operations. You can't have that scale of production equipment in a home. The dies are enormous and expensive. You can melt silver at home, and cast it, but that's a different process than what mints do. Look up "poured silver" – that's what you can do at home. It will be rough, lumpy bars, not the kind of precision you get in minted coins with radial lines and microprinting.
  3. Mylar is used by professional archivists for documents, photos, and other materials, and seems to be a known safe and inert material. I think PVC is the only identified problem material in the polymer category. And acidic paper was a problem in both documents and the enclosures used for them (sleeves, boxes, envelopes). But acid-free paper is pervasive now, so it seems like PVC is the only problem material.
  4. Ziplocs are LDPE, not PVC. Capsules are too expensive for silver – I like tubes these days since they seal and are free.
  5. Hi all – I've talked about Ziploc bags as effective storage for silver bullion, but I learned today that it's not working with some of my inventory. It seemed to work for a couple years, but I guess it just takes longer to tarnish in Ziploc bags compared to a no-enclosure situation. I knew that Ziploc bags were permeable, both through the main plastic bag sides and the zipper closure, but I assumed they were still effective compared to no enclosure – I was wrong about that. Here's a photo of the tarnish on the obverse of a silver Kangaroo (9999 fine), and on the left is a privately minted Hunter round from the Mason Mint (999 fine). They're both year 2017, and I've probably had them for 3+ years. Below that one is a shot of another Mason Mint round, and a Highland Mint bar, both 999 fine. Last is a bag that shows no tarnish. It's a 10 oz house bar from SilverGoldBull, and a couple of SD Bullion house rounds, both 999 fine. (By "house" I mean their own branded bullion. They're both big online dealers, not mints, and such dealers usually offer their own branded house bullion, made by some private mint they contract with. House bullion typically has the lowest premiums.) So it's not a consistent pattern. Not all the bagged silver is tarnished, but I'd say at least 60% is. The average time-in-bag is likely 3 years, but I didn't track it by bag. You'll notice the desiccant packs, which seem to be useless in preventing tarnish. I should've used specialized anti-tarnish strips, like the 3M brand strips on Amazon, instead of generic desiccants. The strips deal with sulfur directly, and they seem to work. It's possible that Ziploc bags + anti-tarnish strips work, and I'll probably test it with a couple of samples. But the bags don't work with desiccant pouches. A lot of this might come down to your local atmospheric environment, but I don't think anyone has researched it. Localized air pollution has dropped dramatically over the past three decades in developed countries because of much cleaner-burning car engines and industrial processes, but apparently there's enough sulfur to tarnish silver. Maybe there's enough sulfur in natural, unpolluted air – I'm not sure.
  6. @paulmertonis right about Hello Paris as the font. When he says lowercase, it's how that font does lowercase, which is actually uppercase forms. The Australian coin has strange kerning in the word Australia – notice the huge spacing between the first few letters, contrasted with the remaining letters. The Gairsoppa shipreck silver rounds have one of the best fonts I've seen. It's not a coin per se, but we see a lot more privately minted rounds in the US:
  7. That's hardly any. Currencies in rich or developed countries don't fail. Since WWII I can't think of a single currency in a rich country that has failed. Can you? Replacing a currency with a new one, especially a Euro type situation where it's a new multinational currency, isn't a failure. e.g. West Germany's deutschmark never failed. Fiat currencies don't all fail. It's not even clear that most of them fail. Dollars, pounds, Euro, Yen, Swiss Francs, all the Nordic currencies, etc – none of those have failed. So it's weird to make claims that are so easy to falsify. Inflation isn't failure – low inflation is a desired feature, and intentionally engineered. The target is usually in the 2-3% ballpark with modern central banks, and that's generally what the Fed in the US has delivered in recent decades. So a graph showing inflation over centuries doesn't really make any point. People end up with more nominal currency units as inflation unfolds, so saying that currencies lose their value doesn't make any sense, since it ignores the increase in volume. I think central banking and government currencies are a mistake, and I would eliminate that power in any country I help found. But it's not about physical vs something else – it's just about sound money, money ideally being a market good, and limiting government power. The future is money could be anything, and it might not be metal-based.
  8. Nothing I know of retails for under £300. The Fisch is good, as Mr. Chard mentioned. It's not a machine per se, but rather an inert measuring tool that verifies the size, shape, and weight of popular coins. It has depressions and slots in which to place the coin to verify its dimensions, and a carefully designed platform to set the coin and test its weight. The combination of precise dimensions and weight provides a high confidence of authenticity – most fakes won't pass. They go for about $200. The caveats are that they're designed for a specific set of popular coins due to the need for exact precision with the dimensions. There are several different Fisch models, some for silver coins, some for gold coins. Each model covers a specified handful of coins. A popular model in North America is the one that covers both Eagles and Maples. The weight test is discrete and binary. The Fisch is designed like a seesaw or pendulum scale, where when you place a coin weighing exactly one Troy ounce on the marked area, the Fisch balances or something, while any deviation from that target weight will yield a failing result. There might be Fisches for 10 oz bars, but I haven't checked. There's also a competing device costing a bit less. I forget the name, but it's generic sounding like "The Silver Coin Tester" or similar. It's essentially identical to the Fisch in its approach, with the slots and the carefully calibrated balancing for the target weight.
  9. Interesting video. I just leave silver coins in their tubes. Capsules don't seem to provide any benefit over tubes, and they add considerable expense. To not lose money on silver it's important to be disciplined on cost minimization. With premiums and, for you lot, VAT, there's already enough of a "hole" or price risk to make me want to avoid capsules. For singles I just use plastic baggies or Ziploc snack bags (those are smaller than the sandwich bags). I bought a bunch of Plymor plastic baggies on Amazon for 8¢ per bag. They're "heavy duty" 4 mil plastic, 3″ × 4″. That's probably a bit too large, and I don't remember why I chose that size. 2″ × 2″ should work, since all one ounce coins are ≈ 40 mm in diameter, or 1.6 inches. Capsules are a pain to open, and as long you have some kind of closed storage it seems to prevent tarnish, which is the main concern with silver.
  10. It looks like the 20% hole can be avoided, but only if you buy from individuals or used or something. The Brit comments about dealers might have revealed a different premise on my part. In the US the best prices and selection are at online dealers, especially SD Bullion and Silver.com / JM Bullion. They're much cheaper than local shops, and shipping is usually free. It's probably the size of the US market, and the cheap shipping options. (You can't get the same efficient shipping in Mexico, for example – their postal service is even worse than ours, and everything else will be expensive.) Most states don't tax bullion, and it can be avoided by shipping elsewhere. So it's close to a free market. But I think the bigger issue in the UK is that stackers will die out – there won't be any replenishment from younger generations. This means the market will shrink over time, and that will make it harder to do anything with silver. This is an issue in the US too, but less so because of the market size and lack of VAT. It looks like stacking sort of picked up steam around the 1980s when various national mints returned to making bullion. For decades there was virtually nothing produced, say since WWII. In the 1970s it was just Krugs, and I think some erratic Sovereign production. Then Canada, the US, and others got into it, Mexico ramped up its production, etc. There's been lots of stacking since then, especially compared to the 1940s - 1980s period. But now it's clear that young people don't know or care about bullion. The example from that crackpot Maloney with the kids just reminded me that young people are not getting into bullion. His experiment is simply an artifact of choosing very young children – try it with teens and see what happens... This implies that the future of silver is industrial, which might inform one's strategies.
  11. I think the bar question is about value or price per weight. All silver bullion is definitely not equal, so everyone should really stop saying that. Bars are cheaper than coins of the same weight. They have lower premiums. A big factor is liquidity. Some bullion is more liquid, easier to sell. Some also has bigger premiums when you sell. One's own government bullion is usually the most liquid in a given jurisdiction. In the UK, it's Britannias. Other knee-bender countries' coins are fairly liquid in Britain too, like Maples and Perth and RAM coins – basically, any coin with the Queen on the obverse. But there's no point stacking in the UK since you lot aren't willing to get your VAT on investment precious metals abolished. A 20% hit is too large to reliably overcome for the typical investor. Silver doesn't move around enough to eat a 20% loss upfront – you'd have to be a genius with exclusive access to extraordinary data to be able to time silver purchases well enough to reliably profit in the end. You'd need hedge fund resources, drones flying over silver mines, hacks into mining companies and bank traders' computers, etc. Otherwise you'll very likely lose money on silver, given the VAT. With gold you can often avoid the VAT, so it's a normal investment. But not silver in Britain. If you do risk it, stick with pure 999+ silver. There's a small liquidity benefit due to other countries' laws. In Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and other jurisdictions they exempt precious metals from consumption taxes (VAT, GST, etc.) but they stipulate a necessary purity of 99, 995, 999 or similar. It's a terrible approach to tax law to pick arbitrary preferences like that instead of letting people decide what they want, but that's what they've done. If you buy Sterling silver, it won't be tax-exempt in most countries, slightly degrading its liquidity.
  12. Oy, have any of you shipped small volumes of silver in large envelopes, aka "flats" in USPS parlance? It looks like a great solution for 1 - 3 ounces or so. 10 ounce bars might work too, but as the value gets into hundreds of dollars / pounds it seems risky. I discovered a while back that this is actually possible given the rules and specs for a Large Envelope / Flat with the USPS, and Large Letter with the Royal Mail. It's much cheaper than even the lightest package price, e.g. the minimum price for First Class Package Service in the US. It will be less than two bucks in most cases, sometimes just one. The rules stipulate that the envelope be no more than ¾ inch thick (or a full inch in the UK), with no more than ¼ inch variance in thickness. A one ounce coin, round, or bar will be less than ¼ inch thick, so that's not a problem. They also require a certain level of flexibility, and the opposite – stiffness. The envelope can't be super rigid, and it can't be completely floppy like those poly mailer bags you sometimes see used for clothing. These issues aren't a problem, and any standard stiff paperboard mailer will work, as will most padded and bubble mailers. People in the US often wrongly state that any padded or bubble mailer is a "package" and must be charged as one. I finally traced this myth to old USPS rate classes before 2007. Back then all First Class mail was charged the same, except that any mailpiece that deviated from regular letter dimensions had a Nonstandard Surcharge of less than a dollar. So all packages and large envelopes got hit with that, and there was no distinction between those envelopes and packages. Then they introduced the Large Envelope class in 2006 or 2007, which rewrote the rules. Government employees are super slow and unaccountable, so they've been quoting the old policies decades after they expired... It seems like small amounts of silver would be fine in a flat, but I haven't seen merchants leverage these rates. Most shipping software and resellers seem ignorant of the Large Envelope class and the opportunities it presents for small stuff. Sellers even send me banknotes as First Class Packages, even though they're in envelopes – I don't think eBay gives them the option. Do you think silver would get damaged? It seems like a good stiff envelope would protect it, especially with some thin hard plastic inserts, or even just cardboard inserts. There's a great company in the UK called Lil Mailers or something, and they make strong ones.
  13. The Royal Canadian Mint is probably the best government mint, at least the most innovative. They have some serious metallurgy and research going on there. The MintShield thing to reduce silver milk spots, the multi-ply nickel and copper plating on their steel circulation coins, their 99999 fine gold products, etc. They also have good security features on their standard silver and gold coins. As an American, I'm embarrassed by the US Mint by comparison. They don't do anything. They never innovate. No security features. No 9999 silver. No 99999 gold. Not even a 9999 gold coin that isn't awfully ugly. Nothing for milk spots. Wasting precious copper and nickel on circulation coins decades after the rest of the world smartly moved to steel with thin nickel plating. The British Royal Mint is pretty good, much better than the US Mint in terms of security features and purity (and in circulation coins). They compete with the RCM to win smaller countries' business to mint their circulation coins. That business-like competitive context probably helps drive those mints to innovate more overall. Ultimately I prefer private mints as a matter of principle and ethics, but government mints have crowded them out such that there isn't as much money or innovation in private mints. Government mints have the advantage of being unaccountable to owners, shareholders, or investors, and enjoy a significant critical mass from their circulation coin operations. For example, the US Mint's annual revenue is over $3 billion, and the RCM has about $1 billion. The Royal Mint sees about £1 billion. I don't know how much is from their circulation coin monopolies, but whatever the amount is it's free critical mass. That's thousands of employees, lots of buildings, equipment, and labs that can be leveraged for precious metals products. Private mints have none of that advantage. The Swiss are still pretty good though. I like the holographic gold Kinebars by UBS bank and Argor Heraeus. It's brilliant. And PAMP Suisse is outstanding as well, and they developed an anti-counterfeit feature for their bars that leverages optical scanners and smartphones. I don't think government mints should exist unless there are explicit constitutional prohibitions against a government currency monopoly. It might make sense to allow a government currency if we thought it would be profitable enough to contribute significantly to a government's budget. But it could never be a coercive monopoly, and said government would have to compete with private currencies, and would have to accept any popular currency as payment. It will be interesting to see what people come up with in the future in more open competitive environments. In many jurisdictions, government mints also enjoy unfair tax exemptions not granted to privately minted bullion – I'd be sure to fully exempt all bullion and currencies from taxes in any new country. There's still a lot of room for innovation if the bullion market were to grow.
  14. I thought your numbers were way off, but they weren't – you're pretty close. Silver density: 10.49 grams/cm³ A troy ounce is exactly 31.1034768 grams due to the International Yard and Pound Agreement of 1959. So one troy ounce is 31.1034768 / 10.49 = 2.965 cm³ volume. A cm³ is a trillion cubic microns, so 2.965 trillion / 20 microns = 148.25 billion square microns of plating area. We divide 148.25 billion by 100 million to get the microns back to cm, and it comes to 1,482.5 cm². I thought it was going to cover a lot more area than that, but you were right there with your estimate of 1,600 cm² (your 40 × 40 cm square). I've seen a lot of conflicting estimates of silver plating thickness for electrical contacts. Some sources give single-digit microns, e.g. 7 microns. Other sources, like these crazy Canadians, seem to imply that there are contacts that are more or less solid silver. See how they melted a bunch of contacts into a silver bar. I'm not sure what sort of products have the solid silver contacts they feature in their article. Note that silver plated contacts are usually an alloy, not pure silver. There's silver cadmium alloy, which tends to be 75-90% silver, tungsten silver at 25-50% silver, silver nickel at maybe 90% silver, etc. Arch Enterprises pays only $10-15 per pound of silver contacts (or they did in Oct 2010 when silver was about $23 an ounce, almost identical to today). I'm confused by what they're talking about. They're treating "silver contacts" as some sort of known, discrete object with predictable amounts of silver and whatever else. But at $10-15 a pound, they can't possibly mean stuff that's mostly silver. If that's the case, I'm not sure what the cutoff for a "contact" is, since there could be any arbitrary length of copper wire attached, or maybe they're talking about something detachable.
  15. Guys there's third-party shipping insurance. Never rely on carriers' insurance. Any carrier insurance you pay extra for will be more expensive than third-party shipping insurance, with worse service. Shipsurance, U-PIC, and InsurePost are the major providers in North America. You might have a different set in the UK.
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