Many survival "Experts" tell you to buy gold and silver to ensure your wealth after the SHTF. They argue that throughout history precious metals have held their value. While this is probably true, it may not always be so. They also encourage you to invest in pre 1965 silver (junk silver coins) which has no collector’s value, just the spot value of the silver content. They say that this will become the currency of the new economy and you will be able to use it to buy goods from those who may have what you want at a local barter fair.
John was headed to town today to check out the local Barter Fair that was being held every Friday. While he had prepared for the current crisis as best as he could, he still had run out of the few items he had apparently overlooked. Like toothpaste, dental floss, baking powder and ammo. Who would have thought that he would have burned through most of his 500 round stash of .300 Savage in just 2 months. He was down to 25 rounds and desperately needed more. Damned raiders anyway! At least he had experienced the grim pleasure of burying 15 of them.
He had not had any gas for 3 weeks now, so he was riding his $500 mountain bike to town. Riding was much better than walking, especially since it had started to drizzle rain. POP! ssssssssssshhhh.... "Oh shit!, there goes my tire!" The bikes tires were worn, and there wasn't much tread left on them. A sharp rock had punctured the front tire when he wasn't paying attention and now he was reduced to pushing his bike the last 3 miles to town. "I guess I will have to buy a new tire and tube at the local bike shop or at the fair, if someone has them". This was John’s first trip to the barter fair as he had thought he was fairly well prepared for bad times. He jingled the $50.00 in junk silver in his pocket, confident he would be able to get most of what he needed and have some left over. After all, he thought, just before the crash, silver was $70 an ounce and gold was $1000 per ounce and rising.
Henry set up his canopy and spread out his tarp, laying out his trade goods so that they could be clearly seen and evaluated by the throng of people milling about, looking for bargains and necessities, clutching their own goods which they hoped to trade for those items they sorely needed. Henry set out the 3 bottles of cold remedy and the bottle of Advil next to the pint of brandy and the pack of unopened Marlboros. He set the 3 emergency fishing gear packs he had made to the right of the cold remedies, and next to that he set out the 3 boxes of reloaded .300 Savage. Henry didn't have a rifle in that caliber, but had bought the reloading dies for it on sale and loaded up the 200 rounds of brass he had found at the local gravel pit. He had found many different types of brass there and one by one he had bought the dies and components to reload them all. Buying whatever he found at garage sales added to his collection of dies until there wasn't a common and some un-common calibers that he couldn't load.
Next to the .300 Savage he laid out 1 box each of 7mm Rem. Mag, 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser and .243 Win. The next items he laid out were the 12 aircraft cable cam lock snares and his 5 extra #110 Conibear traps. Those would fetch a fair price indeed! He next set out his collection of handmade knives, a hobby of his for the past few years. They always sold well and he would give a discount if someone brought him the proper steel and brass for making more. He also encouraged people to bring him whatever lead they could scrounge and he cast bullets with it. For those who brought him sufficient amounts, he would give them 5 of each of the calibers he cast on the spot; 9mm, .38/.357, and .44mag.
They would then trade them amongst the other venders for different things, the bullets eventually coming back to Henry to be loaded into cartridges for trade. Next he set out the #10 can of vacuum packed garden seeds. He had bought 20 cases in the months just prior to the crash, having read the warning signs hidden in the news and on the internet newsgroups and forums. He had also printed up a bunch of how-to manuals on everything from Bee-keeping to Blacksmithing and hoped he would find some takers for them. The last items Henry set out were 2 beautiful black powder rifles, flintlocks in .54 cal to be exact. Nothing less than a pregnant heifer would get him to part with one. And Henry was always hoping...
Henry nodded and waved to the Sheriff's Deputy on patrol. There had been some trouble when the fair had first started and it was almost the end of it before it hardly even began! Some illegal immigrants had been in attendance and had tried to steal one pair of Henry's neighbor's breeding rabbits. While 2 of them chattered away at his bewildered non-spanish speaking neighbor, the 3rd tried to sneak off with rabbits. One of the other vendors saw what was happening and yelled at him to stop. The illegal pulled out a gun and shot at the man, hitting him in the shoulder, and then all three of them ran off with the rabbits. They got about 100 feet before the crowd pulled their own weapons and killed all 3 of them as they ran away. That was the last of the illegal immigrant problem at the barter fair. But there had been other problems as indignant, clueless shoppers could not understand why their debit cards were not good enough to buy a pair of dirty sneakers, and why nobody would accept their paper US dollars. They raised quite a ruckus until the Sheriff had shown up to escort them away for their own safety.
John was tired. He hadn't planned on pushing his bike to town and his feet were starting to hurt. He was also getting very thirsty and had long ago emptied his canteen. "Need to get another one of them too." he thought out loud. He was almost at the schoolyard where the fair was held and he could see where people had staked out their horses and chained up their bicycles and garden carts. There were some vehicles in evidence so someone still had fuel. Those guarding the horses and vehicles stared at John as he pushed his bike up to an empty space on the merry-go-round and chained it up. With any luck the bike shop would be open or the owner here at the fair. Maybe he would get one of those solid tubes that never went flat as well as a new tire.
While John was walking down the street looking for the bike shop, Henry was trading the last of his fishing kits for 5 lbs of homemade jerky. So far he had traded off the cold medicine and Advil to the town doctor for a rooster and 2 hens, 6 snares for 2 breeding rabbits and 10 lbs of feed, one box of 7mm Rem. Mag. for a complete working bicycle with new tires and generator powered lights, most of his how-to manuals for 1000 rounds of various caliber empty brass, 10 homemade candles, and 5 tanned rabbit pelts. A man with a pair of homemade moccasins was eyeing Henrys #110 conibear trap collection, trying to make up his mind whether to make an offer or not. Henry thought that those moccasins looked mighty comfortable. 10 minutes later the man was smiling as he walked away with his "great bargain" of 2 traps and Henry was trying on his new moccasins.
John stopped and stared in dismay. It was gone. The whole block was gone, only charred rubble where the bike shop and other buildings had been. "Damn Damn DAMN!" thought John. "There goes my best chance at getting what I need."
Disappointed, he turned and headed back to the school. As he neared the vendors he began scrutinizing each ones goods, looking for what he needed. It seemed that no one had any "real toothpaste" for sale, just some baking soda and some iodized salt that they were hawking as replacements. He had made them a generous offer of $2.00 face value junk silver but they weren't interested. They wanted a pair of size 10 boots in exchange, and as John had stood there trying to get them to change their mind, someone with boots to trade came along and John watched "his" makeshift toothpaste leave with someone else.
"What is wrong with these people?" he thought. "Don't they realize that silver and gold are the new currency?" Disappointed again, he turned and went looking for the items he needed from "more reasonable" people.
As John walked about he noticed that people were accepting almost anything but silver and gold for goods. In fact, he didn't even see anyone else trying to use coins for currency as they bought and sold items. John was no fool, he realized now that he was in a bad way if no one was trading in gold or silver. One old man came up to him and said "What’s amatter Sonny? You look a little long in the face." "Why don't people use silver or gold as a medium of exchange?" John asked.
The old man laughed and said to him. "Them there coins you have, can you eat them? Can you plant them and have food grow there? Will they breed and have babies that you can raise and eat or trade for other things? Can you ride them into town and back home again? Can you wear them on your feet? Sonny, those were the old way of doing things, and someday they might be the way things are done again. But for now, they have no use to anyone, including you. What have you been able to buy today?"
John said nothing; he just stared at the old man. Finally he nodded his head, acknowledging what the old man said. He turned and walked away into the crowd to where Henry had his remaining goods laid out. John saw the 3 boxes of .300 Savage there and he almost cried. He knew that his money would be of no use here as he saw the variety of things that Henry was packing up for his trip home.
Henry noticed John starring at his ammo and saw the look on Johns face. He knew that look. The look of the desperate individual who sees what they need, nearly within their grasp, but know they will not be able to get it before it slips away. "Can I help you with something Mr.?" said Henry. John shook his head and said, "Not unless you are willing to trade for silver. I have nothing else of value with me." Henry was feeling good because he had a great day trading, so he decided to see what this guy was all about. "I'm Henry " he said. "I'm John" was the reply.
"Well John, what are you hoping to trade for?" John replied, "I need some ammo, which I see you have 60 rounds of. I had 500 rounds when the crash started but now I am down to 25. I also need a bike tire and tube since mine blew out on the way to town."
"Well John, I really don't need any silver as I have no need of coins. Most of the small purchases around here are made with cast lead bullets which I make for a percentage of the lead. Most people use it as currency for a while and then bring it back to me to load into cartridges for them as they need them. Here's what I can do for you though. I will accept your silver as collateral. You take 20 rounds of that .300 Savage there and bring me all of your empty brass. You did save it didn't you?" John shook his head yes, not sure he could believe what he was hearing.
"OK. When you bring me your empty brass I will give you the other 40 rounds and all your silver back but $2.00 face value. Bring me your old bike and I will trade you this one here for it and another $2.00 face value silver coins. Do we have a deal?" John hesitated for all of half a second before accepting the offer and strolled off to get his bike.
Maybe he didn't get everything that he wanted, but it sure beat pushing a bike 7 miles home with nothing to show but sore feet. Besides, Maggie liked to make homemade scented soap and he didn't see any at all while searching for his needs. And his uncle Bob had taught him to make his own charcoal several years back. Perhaps these 2 items would trade fairly well on his next trip in...