Letter: A Two Year Experiment

Two years ago I buried cash and silver coins on some property I own as an experiment to see how well the cash and silver would fare. Oct 31st 2014 was the day it was recovered.

The vessel was a white plastic PVC pipe about 6” round and about 1.5 feet long capped and sealed with PVC Glue. The cash was placed in standard zip lock sandwich bags and a moisture absorber pouch was placed in each. The silver was placed in the standard coin tubes you receive when buying 20 coins at a time. No absorbers were placed in the tubes of coins. Also, no absorbers were placed in the general compartment outside of the zip lock bags.

The results.

  • CASH – There were no signs of mold or decay. The cash was dry.
  • Silver – There was a bit of tarnish on the edges of the coins. Otherwise, there was no difference between these and other coins purchased at the same time.

What was done correctly.

  • The PVC Tube was sealed correctly, as no moisture was present in the tube. I used a liberal amount of glue on both the tube and the cap. Then, I added more to the outside after about 20 minutes of drying. I did wait one day before burying.
  • The moisture absorbers did their job, as no humidity damage was present at the time of retrieval.

What was done wrong.

  • The cash had a distinct smell of PVC glue.
  • The solution is to use a food saver sealer to ensure the bags are airtight.
  • Double up on the bags for extra measure.
  • Silver tarnished on edges.
  • The silver should have been sealed, like the cash, with moisture absorbers.
  • Possibly insert a small oxygen absorber in the general compartment of the vessel, but not strong enough to break the PVC seal by creating too strong of a vacuum.

Next Time considerations

  • Mark the spot better.
  • Even though it is private property and it was buried under a fallen tree using landmarks to locate the specific place along the tree where it was buried, I still had to dig three holes to locate its exact location. Imagine the excitement (ha) after the first hole netted only dirt. This was due to natural changes of the earth. One marker was a small tree used to line up the spot, and it had died and fell during the two years. Another was a pock mark (small hole) in the bark-less fallen tree under which it is was buried. In the two years other pock marks had appeared, due to the natural decay of the tree. Hence the three holes that had to be dug to locate it. The third was a tree stump where I had dropped a tree just before burial.
  • Without the stump I would have had to dig many more holes.

To mitigate this in the future.

  • Let another trusted individual know exactly where it was buried. Even have that person along during burial, so they can visualize its location in their own mind.
  • Use other landmarks that have a longer life expectancy.
  • I don’t suggest drawing a map, because that can be misplaced or stolen, but that is a judgment call.
  • GPS may or may not be available and at best is only good within a few feet (an assumption), but it should be close enough to find it in a relatively short amount of time.


  • The money I buried had a specific value. Today that money has lost some of its buying power when comparing the cost of groceries alone.
  • The same is true for the silver; however, using ancient methods, an ounce of silver should still be a day’s worth of labor when the artificial paper market stops manipulating the prices. I use the dollar cost averaging method with my silver purchases so that decline does not really matter to me.

Any comments and suggestions are very welcome.