4th National Silver Dollar Convention
November 10 – 13, 1983
A Place in Time
By Dean Tavenner
Not often in an investor’s lifetime is he accorded the opportunity which has been available to those interested in silver dollars for the past 28 years. Perhaps one can go so far as to say the opportunity has existed since 1878 – that is to say, since silver dollars were first issued as the bullion backbone of a nation entering the competition for the position of leadership in the industrial revolution. But nothing really happened regarding silver dollars as far as the investor is concerned during the period from 1878 to 1955. Then slowly and unnoticed at first and growing to a flood seven years later (and ending abruptly in April of 1964) the federal government disgorged from its vaults the 600 million coins which were listed in inventory in December of 1954. By April of 1964, only 2,700,000 Carson City dollars were left. This disgorging took less than 9 ½ years!
About 822 million dollars had been minted from the time the Bland-Allison Act had been passed in 1878 until minting was discontinued in 1935 because the need for currency backup no longer existed. Two significant melting periods in 1918 and 1942-43 had wiped out 200+ million, but still over 75% of the production still sat in the vaults in December of 1954. How can anyone imagine an opportunity such as what existed from then until April of 1964, let alone to think of the opportunity since the coins have been available at face value.
It has taken nineteen and half years now for uncirculated common dates to increase forty times in value. Think of this as a percentage of the time frame since 1878 and you can see why the past twenty years have been considered by most of the “lost opportunity,” and by a few as the “once-in-a-lifetime” shot.
What does this analysis of the past mean to you? Just that there seems to be no conceivable chance that the next generation won’t look back on the current period as the “once-in-a-lifetime” chance. The hard money writers have given you every reason to look upon silver and gold as the “Real Money” to which any sensible or surviving economy must return – I needn’t repeat their argument here. I want to carry their points a step further: If hard money is to be a fuel for a surviving economy, then rarities of silver and gold must have an even more formidable edge. If 600 million dollars can virtually disappear in 28 years, then the best of what small portion still does survive on the market – that is MS 63 plus to MS 65 dollars – must represent the museum pieces of the next generation. The Oriental concept of investment has for centuries been to invest for the next several generations, not for the next several months, weeks or trading sessions on the commodity markets.
If we are so shortsighted as to look only to the profit of the next (manipulated) swing in the silver futures, then we deserve to have the silver dollar as an investment item pass again unnoticed. If we learn from the past and consider our real investment goals, then the silver dollar has a future for us as bright as the most lustrous P/L 1880-S (now worth $200 compared with fifteen years ago at an outrageous $4.25.)
Don’t miss the chance of this generation; don’t let them escape you this time around.