Again, kudos to Mark at Montana Rarities - I ordered Monday morning, made a change to my order Monday afternoon, and the order was still waiting at my post office Wednesday afternoon.
I stopped in and picked it up this morning, and did a quick inventory. Mark sent me one extra piece; I have emailed him to ask how he'd like to handle it.
The bullion is neat, but the coins ("junk" silver) are what really fascinate me. I got both quarters and dimes; all are pre-1964 so contain 90% silver - about 0.71 troy ounces per dollar of face value. I found a few Liberty (Barber) dimes amongst the Mercury dimes - worn nearly smooth, but some of it is still legible. In particular, the "1892" date stamp. It's nifty to think about how many hands that dime has gone through, how many pockets it's sat in... Worn as it is, it may be worth more as a collectible than as junk silver. I'm no numismatist, so I'll have to look.
Most of the quarters I got are 1940s through 1964, although I did spot a few "Standing Liberty" quarters from the 20s.
Here's my advice, and it's worth what you paid for it: if you have disposable cash, putting it into tangibles is not a bad idea at all. Could I have skipped a small pile of rounds and just gotten a 10ozt bar or two? Sure. But if I end up trying to trade this stuff down the road, it's pretty tough to buy a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs with a 10oz bar. A few silver dimes? No sweat.
And because it was worth a shot, a few pictures. Quality isn't superb - I need to fiddle with positioning and lighting and removing the cat hair - but they're pretty representative.
I'd been doing some digging over the past couple years on sources for silver. Apmex.com is well-known and -regarded in the precious metals world, and tends to have fair pricing. I'd also found multiple references here and there to MontanaRarities.com, not only for good selection but for their monthly purchase plan.
I skimmed through both sites, and ended up ordering from Montana Rarities. I ordered a small assortment of "junk" dimes and quarters, and a small selection of non-coin bullion - that is, assayed silver from private mints without a face value. In my ordering process, I mis-clicked one bar for another, and didn't notice until I re-read my order confirmation email in the afternoon. The price difference was measurable, so I took a chance and called them up.
I spoke with Mark, who sounded tired (in his words, "We've been slammed today!*") but was cheerful and helpful. I explained what I'd done, and asked if there was any way he could change the order. He checked current inventory and pricing at the time of order, and found he'd owe me a small refund. I asked if he could make up the difference with a few of the smallest bars they have - five-gram pieces. He did some fast math, and agreed to do that with no quibbling.
The computer decided to argue with him, so after a minute or two of trying to convince it, he said, "You know what? If you don't mind an incorrect invoice with a hand-written note on it, I'll do it that way and go pull this order myself as soon as we're off the phone."
I got the shipping notice last night. My silver should be here by the end of the week.
That is exemplary customer service, and they have just guaranteed a long-term customer (that monthly plan is next on my list).
As an aside: I ordered early in the day. The silver market did strange things yesterday, and my order went in around $24/oz. By 7pm the market had dropped to $22/oz, and as of now it's back to almost $24. Yes, I could have tried to watch and time the drop for bottom, but I didn't have time for that. Buying PMs for a hedge means accepting some risk or potential for lost capital. I don't expect we'll ever see silver at $8-10/oz again. Under $20 is possible albeit not very likely. Over $50? I suspect that's more likely than the low end.
* - the other thing Mark mentioned was that while the market was falling, all his calls were not people panicking and trying to get out - they were people buying as quick as they could. This suggests to me that people are definitely not interested in switching their hedge funds back to cash, and will accept a pretty hefty short-term loss to protect their capital in the long run.
On my drive home, I decided to take a swing through the Cabelas in Hazelwood, MO. It was early in the day for them, and the store was nearly empty - although there was a "take a number" line at the gun counter. Pistol displays were thin but stocked. I didn't even look at new long guns.
Used long guns? Ouch. A handful of beat shotguns for outrageous prices (f'rex, a corncob Ithaca 37 in *rough* shape for $450), and quite a few boltguns. No Mosins, Springfields, or much of anything "tactical" (.223, .308, etc). A few varmint rifles in oddball calibers - .22-250 and the like. And LOTS of Mausers in various flavors. Turk. Argentine. 8mm. 7.92mm. All the prices I checked were north of $500. I don't know the market for those, but they seemed ... high.
None of the common pistol calibers - 9mm, .40, .45, and .38/357 were cleaned out. There were a half dozen lonely boxes of Buffalo Bore 10mm-Heavy.
Rifle ammo: "hunting" calibers were plentiful - .270Win, the various belted magnums, .243, and .30-06. I didn't see any .308 on the shelves. There were a couple dozen boxes of higher-dollar and a couple boxes of low-dollar low-weight .223. LOTS of 7.62x39 - all Herters-labeled steel, but lots of it, at about $6/20. A fair pile of 54R, also Herters steel, around $8/20.
Shotgun: Plenty of everything. Cases of Rio sport loads (#6-#8 shot) were on sale for $70. There was a rack full of Rio #00 buckshot cases, no price visible. Individual boxes of 25 were marked for $19, so I'm guessing a case would run $170-180ish.
Ammo purchases were limited:
- 100 rounds or 1 brick of .22.
- 5 boxes of centerfire rifle ammo.
- 3 boxes of pistol ammo, if memory serves.
Reloading stuff was picked over - there were presses and other gear, but components and dies were thin for major calibers. Oddball and hunting stuff still had a good selection.
I left with a new IWB holster for the M&P and a jar of their honey-pecan seasoning.
After some careful discussion with the CFO (aka MrsZ), we decided to put some money into tangibles. Beyond the accumulated brass and lead, that is.
I had a small 401k floating around in never-never land from an employer I left more than ten years ago. I never rolled it over, moved it, or did anything with it. The value hasn't increased appreciably in most of those ten years.
Therefore ... I cashed it out. I took the hit on value and taxes, and dumped the entire remaining amount into silver. Mostly bullion, but a fairly sizable pile of "junk" silver as well.
For those who don't quite get precious metals: I am not speculating, I am not investing, I am not hoping the prices go up... I am hedging. I will have a small amount of a tangible product tucked away that is relatively inflation-resistant. If we go all Weimar-Republic in the coming years, I'll still have a little bit of value tucked away.
(And that is why I got some junk silver in addition to bullion rounds: a mercury dime has about 0.07 troy ounces of silver content, which makes it handy for trades on smaller stuff.)
And yes - I'm planning to gently increase the storage on a regular basis.
This has been yet another long and exhausting trip. I'm hoping it's fruitful.
One-way it's about 1100 miles from home to my hotel here in MO. I left the house at 7:30 Tuesday morning, made a stop in town for a few road snacks, and headed west. I hit pediem's AO around 1pm, we had lunch, and I was back on the road by 2:45ish.
I hit my crash space just west of Indy around 7:30 Tuesday night, and was sociable for a few hours before going to bed around 11 or 11:30.
Wednesday morning I hit the road again around 8:30 feeling moderately so-so, and made my hotel just east of KC around 3 central time... after driving from STL all the way across MO in the rain.
If you're doing the math, I'll save you the time: just about 18 hours of driving time.
I had dinner with my brother in law and his fiancée, and crashed. And slept poorly.
And got up this morning and spent most of four hours in a comm center getting a quick orientation and overview.
I went back to my hotel and tried to relax for an hour with no luck.
I headed southeast and met BiL for lunch, then went off to an interview-by-committee.
I have no idea how it really went. I feel like I bombed. I caught myself rambling a couple times. I couldn't string thoughts together. I know I got a few honest chuckles from the committee, which I think is good. ("Where do you see yourself in three to five years?" [I look at the director.] "When are you planning to retire?")
I grabbed a 12-pack of Shiner for a friend on my way back to the hotel. I'm trying to unwind now; I'm planning on an earlyish dinner and bedtime and hopefully some better sleep. Tomorrow is a long day - I'm making the full shot back to pediem's place to crash for the night before the last leg home on Saturday morning.
I really don't know what comes next - I guess I'll wait and see.
Not much, but a bit. Took a couple friends to the range, burned a box or two of .22, a couple boxes of 54R, a handful of 20ga shells, and the current magazine of .40 in the carry gun.
I found one complaint about the TruGlo on the 15-22: it needs an allen wrench to adjust the sights. It was hitting a few inches left at 50yd. Still a nice palm-size group in rapid fire at that distance, but not quite where I wanted it to be.
The 91/30 belonged to a friend, and was dead-on first shot. The back end of the range was a mud hole, so we stayed at 50yd, but it was keeping a 2" group there. 1943 Izhevsk with '72 Bulgarian light ball.
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Unless otherwise and specifically noted, any product mentioned, commented about, or reviewed in this blog was bought with my own hard-earned money or given to me by a third party with no vested interest in a review (i.e., my wife).
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