Last Updated on December 13, 2013
With the global economy hanging on by one rusty and wobbling wheel to the triple loop roller-coaster rails we are on; paper money is no longer a wise investment. For those who see the writing on the wall and even the less pessimistic, holding precious metals in the form of Gold and Silver are a time-tested hedge against inflation, currency manipulation and bank defaults. You can’t help but hear the advice of financial professionals who are saying you should buy gold at the very least as part of a diversification strategy. There are numerous opinions about this and I for one am convinced that at some point in our future, the dollars in my bank will either be worthless or unobtainable for a variety of reasons. If the economy finally does go off the rails, precious metals are what we in the prepping community are looking to as our monetary bumper guard.
When this happens, people who have prepared by purchasing Gold and Silver for their financial security will be all set, right? That is what we all think about but it got me to thinking. Let’s take the hypothetical scenario that you have purchased 10,000 silver American Eagles and they are hidden safely away somewhere that only you and your spouse know about. You wake up tomorrow morning and we are hit with a Weimar Republic type of scenario. Banks are closed for weeks and thousands of dollars won’t buy a loaf of bread. The way of life we once knew is completely gone and now you have one of the only forms of money that will buy anything. You figure you can go down to the local market and buy or barter for anything you want with some of your shiny American Eagles. There may be a few problems though.
How do you know if the metals you are trading for are real?
One of the first issues I can foresee with a new economy based upon precious metals is the risk of forgery. I assume this has been the case throughout time since money was invented and began to be circulated as a suitable method for payment. Do you know how to test a gold coin to make sure it isn’t fake? What if a total stranger offers you a gold coin for two of your best shotguns you were keeping for barter. Will you know if the yellowish coins he is giving you are real? What if a woman offers you two old-looking silver coins with some woman on the face and tells you that they have been in her family for years. Will you know if they are real or forgeries from China? These could be more risks with bartering that you need to consider.
Testing precious metals is fairly easy if you have the knowledge and supplies. There are several methods for each and I will go into a couple for Gold and Silver. If you think you may encounter a situation where you might be faced with trading large or even small amounts of precious metals, it may be wise to invest in a digital scale to verify the weight. A silver (troy) ounce coin should weigh 31.10 grams and simply being able to verify that the coin someone is trying to trade you for weighs close to what it should weigh could give you a quick indication as to the authenticity.
To quickly test gold you can purchase a Gold testing kit which comes with a variety of acids. These acids are in marked bottles and each reacts differently to different types of metals. With one of these relatively cheap kits you can test Gold, Silver and Platinum and even know the quality of the metal from 10K to 22K.
To test the gold you simply drop a small drop of the acid onto the coin or bar and the acid reacts when the gold is real and the correct acid will react to the correct Karat or purity of gold.
This is a short video that illustrates the process.
You can test Silver with the same kit mentioned above or there are some other less sophisticated methods that are supposed to work also. I found a nice article that describes 3 quick ways to help tell real Silver from Fake Silver.
The Ring Test
Silver has a nice ringing sound when it is tapped. If it is a coin, you can flick it into the air. Alternatively, you can gently tap it with another coin. In both instances, you should hear a high-pitched bell-type ring that lasts about 1-2 seconds. A fun way to try this is with a U.S. quarter from the years 1932-1964, which is 90% silver, and with a modern U.S. quarter (post 1965), which is 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel. The silver quarter ring will be much higher-pitched compared to the dull ring of the copper quarter. Be careful when doing this with whatever coin you are testing so as not to ding or damage it.
The Ice Test
In addition to having the highest electrical conductivity of any element, silver also has the highest thermal conductivity of any metal. If you place an ice cube on a silver coin or bar, the ice will begin to melt immediately. Obviously, ice will melt if placed on anything at room temperature, for example, but if placed on silver it will melt much more quickly and impressively. Try it!
The Magnet Test
Silver is not magnetic. If you place a strong, rare-earth magnet called a Neodymium magnet on a silver coin or bar, it should not easily stick to it. If you are testing bars, you can angle one at 45 degrees and let the magnet slide down. It should slide down very slowly. If it sticks or it slides very quickly, it is not silver. However, keep in mind that just because the magnet does not stick does not necessarily mean that it is silver.
I found another video that describes a couple of magnet tests for silver and how to use them.
How will you carry your Gold and Silver?
OK, now you know how to verify if gold or silver is fake but in a post collapse world there will still be risks that you might want to consider. You will be your own ATM because there won’t be a strong building to store your precious metals in until you need them. You will be responsible for storing, hiding most likely and keeping your wealth safe from people who want to take it. There will no longer be the illusion of safety that the FDIC provides to your deposits. If someone steals your gold and silver, it’s gone. There isn’t any getting it back unless you find the person who stole your money and take it back.
There are a lot of strategies for hiding your money but probably the most important concept would be to make sure you do not hide everything in one place. If you are going to hide your silver, make sure there are several locations. I would recommend a minimum of 3 locations with varying sizes in there.
For example if you were bugging out on foot and had to take all of your money with you the risk that you might be confronted on the road is higher after the SHTF. Do you want to have all of your silver in one pack? Probably not. If you aren’t alone, you could have different caches of your money so that if the bad guys ask for your money you could give up one bag but the other two would be OK. I might recommend having three so when you give them the first bag and they inevitably ask for the second you still have your third in reserves. Who knows if this will work but it does give you options. You could do the same with weapons, food or any other survival cache you have planned.
Hopefully this gives you something to think about as you prepare for whatever is in our future. If you are considering stocking up on precious metals, the points above may help you out one day.