Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Confessions of a Penny Hoarder

I love pennies. I love the jasper color of a finely toned penny, especially from the year of my birth.


If I were sorting zinc from copper pennies I could almost identify this one by touch because of the deep ridge on the border. I started collecting copper pennies (before 1982 are 95% copper) about two years ago when silver became too expensive. It reminded me vaguely of the days when I played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and 20 copper pieces would equal one silver piece or some such calculation. I often realize how ridiculous it is when I look out the window and see this enormous copper dome on the roof of the Midway Theater that must contain a ton of copper, and here I am sorting the pennies I get at the grocery store hoping to find one or two copper ones, but the fact is so many markets have become so volatile that I feel safer making ultra low risk investments like copper and silver. The plunge in the market last week left a lot of people who have their money in mutual funds feeling high and mighty, but those same people should remember they lost most of their investment in the last crash and if they don't retire in the next five years will lose it again, maybe more than once. Who knows where that trolley will end up when you decide you want to get off.

A little over a month ago copper and nickel bullion made a huge run that made a U.S. nickel worth more than face value and a penny dated 1982 or before almost 2.5 times more valuable than a cent. Party poopers will be the first to jump out of the shrubs to tell you it's illegal to melt a penny, but so what, by the time you try to cash these in to pay for your kids college that ban will most likely have been lifted and price and value are two different things. For instance, the price of gold and silver has dropped almost 25% in a week's time, but I defy you to go somewhere and try to take advantage of that drop in price by buying some.You can't because no one is selling theirs. That should tell you all you need to know about the value of metals. 


When I first buying silver the price had just reached $25 an ounce, and at the coin shop people thought that was a ceiling. It turns out the bull run left silver a smidge away from $50 an ounce before the decline came. I got back into cash on the way down and now I'm hoping to buy my first ounce of silver for $25 or less, but it will be a long time before anyone is willing to part with it at that price, even if the market says it's only worth $10. Most of the sites that were fueling the silver rage have gone silent, or started selling end of the world supplies, but if you missed the roller coaster when it started almost five years ago, it's time to start paying attention again. If it happens in a few weeks that silver has fallen below twenty bucks, and if you can start compiling it at $25 or less, then it's time to start the slow build. Fifty dollars will happen eventually, probably even during the next bull run. I don't see that happening anytime soon because nobody is getting shaken off their position by this crash. Everyone now has silver, and the price won't make another run until the small players get shaken out. That's unlikely to happen, but at under $25 silver is your huckleberry either way. 

If last week's bloodbath in metals was a shock to those who have been buying high and holding on for dear life, believing the Apocalypse was nigh, it's certainly also a chance for those who didn't get in the first time to re-consider adding physical metals to their investment portfolio. If I were to do anything differently looking back, i would have sold off more at the high of near fifty instead of waiting until I knew the party was over. Even if it had gone slightly higher I would have still been the better off for having sold. I'll be keeping that in mind next time around, but I'm also just looking forward to some bargain hunting. Nothing is prettier than a stack of silver, and that's a fact. Pin It
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