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How To Invest in Precious Metals

"The absence of gold as an intrinsic part of our monetary system today makes our century, the one that has just passed, unique in several thousand years..." --Robert Mundell, 1999, accepting the Nobel prize in Economics

"Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves."

Disclaimer: The following information is for investors who handle their own accounts and accept responsibility for their actions. If this description does not fit you, please leave.

Safety and Liquidity. Gold and silver are wealth-preserving assets as opposed to wealth-producing assets (such as stocks, rental-property, farmland, etc). Holding gold and silver is not an investment, any more than holding U.S. dollars is an investment. (This is more true for gold than silver, since silver has important industrial use as well.) They are both money—a medium of exchange, no more and no less. The only increase in the value that gold and silver may have is in relation to paper (i.e. fiat) money. This is because historically fiat money has always failed and gone to zero. Invariably, nations inflate their paper currency into oblivion. It is not because gold and silver are going up in value, but because the value of paper currencies is going down in relation to them. While one is racing to zero, the other is climbing to infinity.

  • Percent of portfolio. It is commonly recommended that 5 to 10% of one's equity (or investment portfolio) be composed of precious metals. However, in today's environment of high inflation (see on the real inflation rate) and mountains of debt at all levels of American society, many are strongly recommending a higher percentage allocated to precious metals--a 25% or greater allocation is not an uncommon recommedation. In a highly inflationary environment "cash is trash." In terms of allocation, an equal dollar amount of gold and silver is often suggested.
  • What to buy. I recommend Gold American Buffalo or American Eagle coins and Silver American Eagle coins. The Buffalo coins are pure 24-karat (or .9999 fine) gold and the Eagle coins are the traditional 22-karat (or .9167 fine) gold. The silver coins are pure .999 fine silver. Dealers are currently selling silver coins at $3.00 to $3.50 over the current ("spot") price (it used to be $2.00 to $2.50 a year ago), and buying them back from you at below spot. However, online dealers (like will buy back at above spot.
  • Where to store. (See below on where to store).
  • Where to buy. (See below on where to buy) I generally buy my gold and silver coins from,, and may be trying in the near future. I have also bought locally and through eBay.
  • When to buy. Generally, the best time to buy gold and silver is through the summer months (see Seasonality of silver and Silver Bull Seasonals 2.
  • When to sell. The best time to sell is in a hyper-inflationary event. If hyper-inflation were to occur in the United States, as a result of the government trying to print its way out of its mounting debt, then asset prices will collapse and gold and silver prices will soar. A marvelous opportunity would then exist to sell one’s stash of gold and silver for bargain basement opportunities in real estate, equities, and other assets. As everyone is selling assets to gain cash, you are selling gold and silver to buy up those same assets. This would also be an ideal time to clear out any long standing (“fixed interest rate”) debt, including mortgage debt. In fact, the best positioning into a hyperinflationary event is to be heavily invested in gold and silver and highly indebted in real estate (assuming the mortgage is of a fixed interest rate).
  • How to ship. See this video: How to Ship Silver Safely. Ship via (i.e. United States Postal Service) using Registered Mail with Delivery Confirmation. Don't bother with insurance unless you have a contractual requirement to insure it, or the value is very high. Use Safe-T-Mailers when mailing very small quantities. Use Air-Tites (or Direct Air-Tite) holders for additional protection and a more professional look. For 1-3 rolls (of 20 coins each), use a corrugated box of 6 X 4 X 3" from ULINE and pad with newspaper. For larger quantities, put them in a box inside a USPS Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box (11 X 8.5 X 5.5"; see video). That's right, a box inside the USPS box. Thus, you need a 10 X 8 X 5" box for the inside box, such as from ULINE. Cut cardboard sheets the size of the inside of the inner box and cut holes that will fit the rolls that you have prepared. You end up with a solid stack of cardboard which holds the rolls tightly, won't slide, and if dropped will distribute the force. Another method is to insert the individual rolls into 4 X 8" Jiffylite Mailers from ULINE then surround the mailers with bubble pack. Delivery Confirmation is free if you buy the postage online at or $1.80 at the post office (as of 5/1/2011). Registered Mail with Postal Insurance is NOT the same as "insured mail." And don't put more than $25,000 value in one package. Insurance has to be bought at the Post Office, not online. As for insurance, (1) USPS won't pay unless the package is also Registered, and (2) USPS won't pay unless you can prove the value of the shipment.

Where to store

  • Safe deposit box. Most people store their coins in safe deposit boxes in one or more banks. However, safe deposit boxes may not be so safe in a crisis (see Not-So-Safe-Deposit Boxes: States Seize Citizens' Property to Balance Their Budgets). Also see: Do not use Safety Deposit Boxes. According to in-house memos now circulating, the DHS has issued orders to banks across America which announce to them that "under the Patriot Act" the DHS has the absolute right to seize, without any warrant whatsoever, any and all customer bank accounts, to make "periodic and unannounced" visits to any bank to open and inspect the contents of "selected safe deposit boxes." Further, the DHS "shall, at the discretion of the agent supervising the search, remove, photograph or seize as evidence" any of the following items "bar gold, gold coins, firearms of any kind unless manufactured prior to 1878, documents such as passports or foreign bank account records, pornography or any material that, in the opinion of the agent, shall be deemed of to be of a contraband nature." See also: Safety Deposit Boxes and Other Bank Oxymorons.
  • Gun safe. Others store them in a "safe" place at home, typically a gun safe (bolted to the cement foundation). A good gun safe can average from $500 to $2,000 depending on the size and quality.
  • Hiding places in the home. Ideas on hiding places in your home are found here and here. See also Hiding Objects Within the Home.
  • Burying it. Underground caching can work, if no one suspects you have buried treasure. Otherwise, treasure hunters using high-end Deep Seekers--professional metal detectors costing $25K and more--will be able to find it. Deep Seekers can detect gold and silver coins to great depths. See this depth table for an idea on how deep. However, the inexpensive (under $800), hobby-type metal detectors won't detect more than about 15 inches deep. (See Lesson 1: Metal Detector Depth for an explanation.) To deter these, you should bury the treasure at least 3 to 4 feet deep. Again, you don't stand a chance against a professional with an expensive Deep Seeker. Factors that affect the accuracy of metal detectors is moisture (increases sensitivity), electrical lines (decreases sensitivity), coal cinders, hot rocks, black sand, mineralized soil, and salt water. Naturally, the smaller the cache and its profile (i.e. vertical orientation) the harder it is to find underground. It is common knowledge that for finding the greatest amount of gold nuggets with a metal detector you need to use an all metal mode (no discrimination or target ID) and must dig all signals. Thus, "spraying" the area of your burial site with shotgun or other metal will frustrate the metal hunter. Ideas on making an underground cache are here and here.
  • Caution on using PVC pipes. Make sure not to directly enclose silver in PVC pipes since it corrodes silver. Thus, either keep them in the convenient plastic rolls they come in or wrap them in something else before enclosing in PVC.
  • Storing Nickels. Shows how someone stores nickels in ABS pipes.

Where to buy/sell gold and silver

There are many reputable gold and silver dealers both online and local to your area, including:

  • A convenient way to buy in smaller quantities is through eBay. Make sure you buy silver in multiples of 20 coins at a time, so you can get them in plastic tubes or "rolls." Also, make sure it includes free shipping. Go with reputable (100% positive feeback) eBay sellers. I have had a very good experience with both these prominent eBay sellers: GREAT SOUTHERN COINS and AYDIN.
  • Local dealer. You can buy through a local dealer, if you intend to buy in smaller quantities. Make sure you know what you want and at what price before you go. When I lived in Los Angeles, California, I bought from Goldcoast Coin Exchange on 20929 Ventura Blvd. Woodland Hills, California.
  • Very competitively priced gold and silver.
  • American Precious Metals Exchange has a lot of inventory. Always a little more expensive than DBScoins and GainesvilleCoins and possibly others.
  • They are competitively priced and convenient to buy and sell through. However, when ordering from Monex, you have to buy in minimum quantities of 10 gold or 100 silver coins. You can keep a cash account with them and get around 2% interest (as of May, 2011) while you decide on a purchase. The markup is roughly computed as the spot price + $2.40 + 1.75% commission + $25.00 S&H.
  • Texas Precious Metals. Competitively priced. They have an online store and accept Visa/Mastercard.
  • Competitively priced. As of September, 2011, a $30 spot price on 100 silver coins using Visa/Mastercard would cost $3,413 (shipping included). It's computed at $3.20 above spot price + 2.8% on the total for credit card usage. If you send a check or bank wire, you save the 2.8%. The check must arrive in 3 - 5 business days. They intend to sell online by November, 2011.
  • This online dealer seems competitively priced, but I have not tried them myself. They appear to be a little more competitively priced than Monex.
  • Online dealer is also a little more expensive. They also charge for shipping.
  • List of other sellers are found at
  • Sells bullion rounds (non-American Eagles) near spot price. They also sell American Eagles, but too expensive.
  • Accepts credit cards and seems reasonably priced.
  • Recommended by BrotherJohnF because of real-time prices. However, I don't see credit card acceptance.
  • Very large Canadian silver miner who sells inexpensive silver rounds and bars.
  • Is a precious metals refiner. Dillon Gage has a $10,000 minimum order and requires a tax ID number. It pays out 99% of spot price, minus an assay fee for analyzing the gold.
  • Is a precious metals refiner. Precious Metal Recovery pays 93%-96% depending on quantity, with no assay fee. If you ask, the company will also provide a coupon for a portion off the shipping for larger orders.


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