Monday, August 25, 2008

Silver moments: Meeting another believer

I was milling about the Scotia metals desk on Friday waiting and waiting and waiting. It seemed there was quite a rush to acquire precious metals suddenly, driven by the dire warnings coming out the U.S. and the recent price collapse. A collapse which is obviously not supported by the level of retail demand we are seeing, as quoted in numerous articles much more eloquent than mine.

I went in about 1:00 with the intention of picking up a few of the last maples Scotia had in stock. A fellow hoarder/collector/bug told me he’d just picked up 15 in the morning and they were down to 70 coins from the 6000 they had 3 weeks earlier. Since I did not have any 2008s for my kids this year (My previous page of maples this year turned out to be 2001 resale product not new) I figured I pop over and get back to my desk in a reasonable amount of time, HA!

The line up was about 10 people long, which is not unheard of considering this desk also does currency exchange but there were also several people hovering about clutching the pick copy of their metals purchase, mmmm peculiar!

Quickly they announced that people wanting U.S. funds should go to a regular teller as they were all occupied doing metals trades, something I had never heard before. Of course the goof in front of me who wanted U.S. dollars refused to move lines costing me another 10 minutes.

Finally I placed my order with one a teller who must think everything is top secret refusing to tell me how many maples were left, or how much they’d been selling. I did find out there was nothing left in silver but maples and Good delivery Bars.

Because of her relcutance to give me any details I complained that the bank should have a plasma screen up where we could see metal quotes, bank buy and sell prices, and inventory levels for products at the branch. Like people want to wait 40 minutes for a quote or to be told there is nothing in stock, idiots!

With my order booked and paid I was told to go have a coffee or mill about as the fellow pulling the orders was behind and someone still had to go down, pick them up in the vault and bring them to customers. I opted to hang around and watch this group pick up their purchases, just to get a feel for what was being happening. I saw a youngish fellow pick up what was a I believe a gold Maple, as well as two older fellows with long beards and a hippyish feel to them who both picked up an envelopes, I could not see they were getting but it was small so probably also a gold coin or wafer.

What also struck me was the fact that it was not the usual elderly Asians doing most of the buying but rather a representive mixture of the population. Rarely do I see anyone my own age(mid 40s) or younger buying gold or silver.

While I’m watching all this another fellow walks over and says,” You buying too” gesturing to my receipt, “Getting 1000?”,

I responded, “ah No, I don’t have that kind of money, I’m just getting a few maples before they run out” , "I invested what I could a couple of years ago and now just nickel and dime when I can"

Turns out this was not his fellows first purchase and he’s there well prepared to take his Good delivery Bar home in a little piece of luggage with wheels and a handle, understandable considering the weight and lack of handles on a 1000 oz bar of silver. We exchanged a few words regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s imminent demise, the FDIC Friday night announcements of yet another bank failure (see Columbian Bank and Trust failure this weekend), the abysmal supply of silver in Toronto, Scotias slowness and Kitco’s nerve taking money now and promising delivery later.

I was called away at this point to pick up my coins but I was very glad to have met another silver ubber Bull, glad that some people deep pockets are buying up the large bars I cannot afford and most importantly, I left suffering ingot envy.

Scotia is probably out of maples again by today but for any of you well heeled types out there 1000 oz bars are available. I don’t know how many bars they have other than the “lots” the teller reluctantly gave up. If you can swing the cost of one of these bars this is the best price per oz you're likely to see this year, the lowest premium and apparently one of the few games in town for silver buyers. Try to convince family members of the validity of silver investments and perhaps you can share a bar to make it affordable. I would with my family, if only they thought I was sane!


Anonymous said...

Can you tell me what you paid for
the maples, on Friday? What was the
CDN spot price, at the time? Does
the price of maples vary much as
the spot market moves, through the day?

I'm trying to compare the price I am seeing locally to figure out if
a trip to TO and a purchase from a bank (versus a local coin shop)
might be in my future; supply
problems aside.


Anonymous said...

I was busy and did not note the spot for the time of purchase.

Scotia charged 16.98 US/ coin+
exchange rate to canadian
8 pst+
5 dollar service fee for orfer
total 20.16/maple

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply .. I'm guessing from the math that you bought 5 or 6 coins.

So I understand (thanks for helping the novice at "bank purchases"), could you break down the costs in their between US spot at the moment and their price of 16.98US. There would be the cost of the coin from the mint (say, if purchased today), some bank markup fee. Do you know the cost of a Maple from the mint today or how much the bank adds on for their profit/cost recovery?

Are these predictable from the
US spot price, I guess I want to
know, if I am making a trip;
being out of stock would really
bad but finding the price to be
much different that what you had predicted or planned for wouldn't
be great either.
8% PST?! Huh .. I thought the deal
was GST (and no PST) on pure
silver (coin or bullion)? PST & GST
on anything less than pure.

Thanks LoW!


Anonymous said...

Gack! I hate these comment boxes!

Anyway .. just for reference, these
are my guesses at the US spot prices on Friday Aug 22, 08:

Open: 13.47
High: 13.63
Low: 13.30
Clos: 13.33


Anonymous said...

I bought 10

I did not sit down and calculate the spot or the exchange rate, I did not care. I wanted these few coins for my kids and they were available for probably the last time this year.

I think Scotia is probably more expensive than some coin dealers but in this market you buy them where you can find them and these were the only maples I knew of in TO.

PST is because they call maples collectables rather than bullion(bastards!) If you order from border gold or J&M coins both out of BC they do not charge PST but you have to contend with shipping.

Bullion has no GST 99.5% or better, sovereigns kruggerands etc have GST because they are 22 kt.

non collectable bullion has no PST anywhere in Canada

Ontario, Quebec and others charge PST on bullion Mint prodcuts like the maples or collector coins. BC and Alberta do not

The Mint will not sell Maples directly to the public so we have no idea what premium Scotia is adding to their cost. I've complained about this to the mint, I believe we should not have to deal with resellers.

Part of the issue is they sell on the ask price and buy on the sell price and ignore the Spot. This way they make a margin on both ends of the sale.(once again Bastards!)

sorry for the spotty answers, I'm fending off stupid people as I type.

Anonymous said...

Canadian Coin & Currency in Richmond Hill had some stock 1oz silver maples about a week ago but they were asking 20CDN before tax. At the time I thought the premium was kinda high but in retrospect I should of grabbed what they had in stock.

nitroglycol said...

I think junk silver is the way to go myself. I like Maples but dislike the premiums (especially through Scotiabank!), and reasonably sized bars seem to be impossible to find in Winnipeg right now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks LoW .. still more questions
than answers at this point. From the
prices and explanation so far, it
doesn't sound like there is much
available to make a trip and the
premiums seem too high. I'll fish
locally, for now.


Anonymous said...

The Junk bag trade is not to strong in Canada and I especially can't find much in Toronto thats near spot. I was picking up junk off and on when I could find it but right now I can't find much of that either.

I'd buy a $100 face bag if I could find one but I certainly can't swing a full $1000 which are running about $10,200 U.S

Another case where I wish friends and family would believe me so we could pool our money and buy in bulk.

Anonymous said...

It is too bad we can't join forces and build some sort of precious metals / silver cooperative / people's bank. We need a mainstream alternative to fiat as a platform to educate the masses to advantages of real money.

I don't think it would take much to be able to pool our resources into a basic legal structure to protect everyone involved and to ensure delivery and storage of silver as the shortages expand.

We could then build a market around the bank where depositors / owners of silver could barter for services.

I think this is an amazing idea with some real potential. If the general masses don't come to the realization that there is another way... precious metals will still be out of reach of most of the population and we will remain slaves to the NWO / banksters.

Anonymous said...

I totaly agree that this is a good idea, which I've put forth variants of on a number of blogs and forum but I doubt its a simple as we think.

Cash up front for purchasing, legaly structured co-op, lawyers, insurance, bonding, storage/handling facilities.

Not that I would'nt join or even sit on a board of such an entity but it certainly isnt within my ability to fund to any great degree

I also wonder what the cost would be for a small arc furnace, molds scales, buffers ect that would be adequate to turn delivery bars into smaller bars. 100oz ,50, or kilos. They would not have to be fancy extruded bars like the NWT stuff, just lumpy paper weights like my old J&m/engelhard 100s and 20s are.

The start up cost would likely considerable but with a $4-5 dollar spread between spot and market there must be a business opportunity here as well.

Anonymous said...

Good insight LOW. I agree with you that everything seems beyond reach when we think in an isolationist manner and based on our own meager resources.

I think the best way to start a venture like this would be to create a simple website with information and start judging the response from people around the world.

There are enough people who are educated to the perils of fiat currency that we should be able to gain the expertise and experience we need from the community to help defer / remove the costs associated (i.e. I am sure we have lots of members who are lawyers, as well as others in the refinery business who may want to become suppliers who could help with the arc furnace and technologies required).

My expertise is with Internet technologies, so my contribution would be to create the website and build a tool to create an e-commerce marketplace for all members where they can easily sign up and create an online store using their deposits as barter / trade. I could also create a google maps implementation to list all of the businesses partaking in the economy.

I don't know the exact numbers...but like you say in your article the number of people who are waking up are increasing and a sound economy and monetary system is truly needed if we are to break the bonds of our slavery. The benefits will become self evident in a short time as the ravages of inflation take their toll.

We will reach a point in time in the near future where the fiat currency and economic model will be questioned and it is our duty to have a solution / alternative if we wish true freedom and individual sovereignty from the banking elite.

Carter Apps, dabbler of stuff said...

If you want to try I will plug it for you and do what research I can,

Where are you physically?

Is this to be a U.S. or Canadian entity?

Precious metals Investors Co-operative?

Anonymous said...

There is actually a conversation going on at silverseek where people are considering a similar idea, including a metal worker.

Anonymous said...

I'm located in Sudbury, Ontario. Yes a Canadian entity would be good to start.

As for a precious metals cooperative... it could be described as this, but I think more of a new banking system where precious metals are treated as currency and not simply an "investment".

1.) People deposit fiat into their account and they receive x oz of silver based upon spot + % for administrative / storage / delivery etc...

2.) No Fractional Reserve Banking, No Interest / Usury, No Loans, Simple savings account where 100% of the deposits are guaranteed in delivery of silver.

3.) Create a marketplace where people can exchange services and barter using their silver as a true currency.

A currency is only of valuable if people are willing to use it for trade. PM are currently not at this level or thought of in this manner. We must build a new banking system without the inherent flaws of the current system along with a new marketplace that uses a currency that is of itself valuable.

I will take a look at the link you provided. We can easily get enough people involved to make this happen, we just have to have the drive and determination to create a better system.

Anonymous said...

Just north of Toronto myself. I spent many a bug bitten day picking Blueberries up your way when I used to spend summers with my grandparents in South River, below N Bay. Why the hell we had to go all the way to Sudbury just to pick berries I have no clue?

the discussion at the link is going more towards the 1 fellow(the metal worker) wants to make bars for sale but is not looking for business partners/investors etc. Hes just looking for information and customer interest, I still support anyone who wants to bring more product onto the market but its not what I had in mind.

He would however be a good source to tap if you wanted melting casting information.

Your idea is sound and quite ambitious and I agree with the premises its certainly a worth while endevour.

I see getting space for secure storage being an issue just do to the bulk of the metal. As example Questrade has that physical gold rrsp with storage at the mint, if you followed with silver storage at the same price point $.10/oz/month, a hundred bar would run $120 a year.

Of course the mint is making money on this and is supplying great security so there is certainly a possibility that good storage can be sourced cheaper.

Sudbury might actually have a storage facility that Inco/flalconbrige/extrada use to store Dore bars before they go to the refiners. Im sure they must have some silver by product from the nickel mines. Find out if the dore is refined pure locally or sent away, If there is a local refiner we could by pass the banks for silver all good to be true;)

Anonymous said...

Long weekend, desk cleaning ..

I run across a copy of ScotiaBank's
"Guide to Precious Metals" where
they detail their handling charge
for the in-person physical purchase. This is how much would
be added to their high-side US
spot price as their service fee.

Not surprisingly, they're pretty
steep. Thought you might be
interested; in US funds/per oz:


1oz $3
5oz $1.50
10oz $1
100oz $1
1000oz none


1oz $10
2oz $10
5oz $8
10oz $8
100oz $2
400oz none


Anonymous said...

Oh I know about these charges, its the premium for having to handle and account numerous small pieces as apposed to one huge honking chunk, most coin dealers are similar because the per oz price is higher from the mints themselves for the extra work.

The funny thing however si scotia will tell you this is a charge that goes back to the mint for their work, even though most of the product they sell are old bars that have likely passed through Scotias hands several times. Its bogus and its one of the inconviniences they use to drive you towards unbacked silver certificates.

Want to see crazy premiums go to Bendix or a small currency exchange place.

This is why we need some kind of silver buyers cooperative where people pool thier money, buy big bars and have them custom minted into bar sizes we want.

Anonymous said...

The key is to figure out how to cut out the middle man in the acquisition phase.

This may be difficult as PM are now defined as investment products / collectibles and are taxed as capital gains.

We need to ensure that we do not have to pay this tax as our intentions are to use the silver as currency.

We need to determine if we can acquire silver as the jewelery shops do (commercially) - as a business and our product is simply different sized silver bullion / coins.

Right out of the gate we should also put together the basics of a market. A listing of individuals who want to buy/sell/trade using silver as a currency. We could also facilitate this process by providing online storefront software for members of the cooperative.

Anonymous said...

I understand what your vision is, however I don't see the point of convincing people to use silver as a medium of exchange when we know it is drastically undervalued. Today is the time of accumulation in preparation for a currency collapse not a time to spend it at less than a 10th of its resonable value. Today is the time to educate and get the silver into public hands. Increasing the amount of product in the market for poor investing slobs like me is my only goal at this time.

I do see a need for a silver to silver market where a someone would offer to make you rounds from a large bar for a percentage of the silver but I would never spend silver to recieve services when I'm earning fiat I need to divest myself of.

There will always be a converstion cost from dollars to silver and that added cost will make my day to day purchases more expensive, I'm not in the position to spend more on ideals.

I think a web site to sound out interest is a good idea but I'm willing to bet most the interest will be simply in a means to access suitably sized and priced silver. The Web is your skill so make your site, make your case and see what happens and work with it, with any luck a metal worker will fall in your lap.

Anonymous said...

If you wanted to re-size silver for
your use (privately, as a co-op
of some kind), I think it would be
wrong approach to find big bars to
be melted down into barter sizes.
As seen recently, large bars are
selling at a significant premiums even in large quantities (25*100oz @ SP+$4). Big bars are only going
to become more scarce and more in
demand, justifying even higher

Practicality, in my mind, says you
should be looking to the jewelery
supply side for their silver balls
and combining those into 'barter'
sizes (coins?). Way cheaper to
'test drive'!

I think that the ~availability~ of
silver is in ~that~ marketplace.
Supply would be predictable and the
pricing you ~could~ find would
always be ~much~ closer to spot!

Wasn't LoW already talking about
locating a major dealer in the
jewelery supply business? I
thought that supply sounded most
attractive compared to Scotia
premiums, eBay auctions and coin
stores with no stock.


Anonymous said...

I agree with both comments. The key is to find a supplier for silver that can meet demand for the broader market that cannot get silver at reasonable prices.

My comments in relation to creating a marketplace for silver and "spending" silver was totally misunderstood.

Obviously the market that could arise would not play according to the fiat world of today. As we have noticed the value of the dollar has dropped... oh 90% in the past 50 years. The value of the products and services would be inflation adjusted so that the goods and services would be reflected accordingly. This would make buying with your silver a worthwhile proposition.

Of course this concept is difficult when dealing with a world largely run by fiat. For example payment for goods and services in an inflation adjusted silver currency wouldn't bring in much revenue for the seller compared to current fiat notes.

Some type of system would have to be devised to keep the cost of goods down while keeping the revenue generated from the purchase in line with current revenue models somehow.

Of course this is all economic theory and I am no expert in this field.

My biggest worry is all the silver buffs out there are waiting for this big payoff in terms of converting their silver to fiat someday. This is a losing idea. The economic model is fundamentally flawed and will continue to be flawed until the currency is set right.

The coming depression / financial collapse is simply a reset switch for the elite and the game will start anew.

If we do not find a way to get rid of debt based currency and this flawed economic system we will continue to be slaves. So you see my / our collective dilemma.

Our own personal goals with collecting silver is for eventual use as trade. If only 1% of the population has silver we have lost the game. Your silver is controlled by the value of the fiat currency which is designed to enslave us in debt.

Silver sells high when inflation is high... so when you cash in your silver for fiat you loose unless the dollar somehow deflates from it's hyper-inflationary spiral.

A market based on silver doesn't have to follow the conventional rules, we get to define our own rules to make the system fair, equitable and just.

This is my ideal. It requires a different mindset. A different way of looking at money and value.

I know we are not alone in our understanding of the tyranny of the central bankers so we cannot continue to play their game of monopoly. In my mind we must create our own board game with our own rules so that we can achieve true independence and freedom.

I will spend some time really thinking this model over. I hope I can come up with a name for this cooperative shortly and the guiding principles. From there maybe I can get some heavyweights on board - owner of Liberty Dollar, G. Edward Griffin, others who are implementing alternative currencies and try to bring everyone together into a single market with a new set of rules.

Anonymous said...

yes its a diffcult thing to create a new market and educate the masses that there is any real difference between pre fed money, pre nixon gold default money and todays fiat. There are also reasonable arguments for problems with a metals market such as to truly monetize it would make gold and even silver to valuable for small purchases. A pure metals market will problably only flourish right after the fall because there will not be enough silver and gold will be too big. They will eventually fall back on paper and the best I expect is we get it backed with metals.

Ah the big pay off is what I'm looking for but not to become fiat rich. Peak energy and growing population and consumption leads to peak food and peak commodities of all kinds. The Big pay off for me is the chance to buy a large amount of land and become as independant as possible from the system. Depending on how big I score I can save others as I build a community, commune, bunker, what ever people choose to label it.

Scoring big on metals just to use that temporary riches to embrace the status quo would be a great mistake.

Anonymous said...

"The Mint will not sell Maples directly to the public so we have no idea what premium Scotia is adding to their cost. I've complained about this to the mint, I believe we should not have to deal with resellers."

Why not start your own silver business and buy directly from the mint?

What do you think the minimum number of maples you'd have to buy would be?

St_Clair said...

Really interesting discussions.

Thanks all, and specially LoW for the taxation minutiae, very useful if buying from US sources.

Carter Apps, dabbler of stuff said...

St Clair.
Welcome aboard, its good to see new readers, especially when they comment.

I'm still keen on getting involved in the coop thing but none of the discussions I've been in have brought together the financial means or person skills and commitment to go ahead with something.

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