Letter Re: Silver Jewelry for Barter?

Thanks for your web site. I find it very informative. And prayers for your missus. I’ve seen recent articles regarding acquiring gold and silver coinage for TEOTWAWKI. My question is this: can gold or silver jewelry substitute adequately for coinage? My thinking is this. In the worst case scenario, there are two kinds of people who will have things to barter – the prepared and the lucky. In dealing with the prepared, a sterling silver ring will be just as valuable as an equal silver weight of pre-1965 dimes. But with the merely lucky? I’m not so sure. In their mind (and their potential inability to recognize/accept fundamental change in the economic world) the face value of the dimes might interfere with the concept of the true (silver) value of the coinage. Plus, by pulling a ring off your finger to barter for example, you might come across as someone in the same boat as the person you are bartering with, leading to more reasonable negotiation. That also might keep attention to you (and your family) to a minimum, as opposed to coming across as someone who might be short on one or two things but otherwise to be envied. Am I off base on any of this? Thanks, – John C.

JWR Replies: I predict that following TEOTWAWKI, it will just a take a couple of weeks for people to mentally “switch gears” and adjust to the new realities of a barter economy.

The main problem with silver jewelry is that hallmarks can be faked. A few choice date numismatic silver dollars have also been faked, but worn non-numismatic silver pre-1965 dimes, quarters, and half dollars have never been faked, to the best of my knowledge. Pre-’65 coins will be accepted in barter without hesitation, while jewelry would probably have to be assayed. And if it were reluctantly accepted in trade without an assay, it would only be at a deep discount. So buy coins, not jewelry!