Jim, I’ve been lucky on bullion recently and found some good info and a source.
I found local coin dealers at a gun show, who were selling “junk silver” coins at barely over spot price. The price was about the same as from the best mass dealer I could find, but in per coin price, not in $1,000 face bags with 715 troy ounces. I’ll be hitting them as funds and silver price permit. NWTBullion does offer the best price I’ve seen, and will deal in bags as small as $100 face value–72 troy ounces, and in small coin quantities. Each purchase is in a large cointube (sold for this purpose and similar to a medicine bottle) with date, silver weight (not counting the base metal alloy), and price paid per ounce. I can build up a good stock cheaply without trying to draw capital on a loan or credit card (Which would cost more than I’d earn in any reasonable scenario) and without the hassle.
Currently, the best bet for gold bullion on a budget seems to be British Sovereigns–10 coins at just under .25 oz comes to less than $1,400. This is far cheaper than the 5 coin or more minimum of 1 oz coins (Eagles, Maple Leaves, Krugerrands), which weighs in at over $2,900. Also, the markup on them is quite moderate. By judicious selling of silver and buying of gold, one can build a gold portfolio piecemeal for about what it would cost to buy a minimum chunk from a refining company up front. I plan to keep silver on hand because it’s easier to move and has greater volatility, but above the minimum level, it can be used as a resource for gold, antique firearms or other long-term investments.
While it’s not a huge market yet, old copper pennies (1981 or earlier) are still worth more than face value and will continue to climb. Copper isn’t getting any more common, and it’s in high demand. Canadian pennies were copper until 1996. JWR Adds: The spot price of copper just hit an all-time high.
Canadian “silver” coins were 80/20 silver/copper, unlike US 90/10, but still had mostly silver content until 1967. They became 50/50 for 1967 and 1968 (quarters and dimes only), and were then .99 nickel until 1999. Nickel is also an in-demand industrial metal, and these coins are readily available. It’s well worth pulling them from change, and they’ll always have face price, though the reason they’re now plated steel is because the nickel is going to be more valuable than face. – Mike