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Metals Market Report Weekly Archive
 

The Mike Fuljenz Metals Market Report

May 2019 - Week 3 Edition

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson May Be in Danger of Historical Extinction

Last week, I wrote about Washington’s consistency in “showing up” seven years as a general in hardship conditions, often in retreat, then serving as our first President, when he would rather have been home at Mount Vernon as a gentleman farmer.  This week, I must write about something more urgent concerning our early Presidents – the possibility they will be “ghosted” from our historical memory and coinage by revisionists who don’t want any former slave owners’ names on any government buildings or programs.

When it comes to “ghosting” our national icons, it won’t stop with Robert E. Lee. The Virginia Presidents will come next, and this could impact their appearance on coins and dollar bills.  A San Francisco high school has considered changing its name from Washington to Maya Angelou, and Washington State may change back to Columbia, its territorial name – even though Christopher Columbus is also under attack.

A century after Washington’s first Inauguration, Americans still held parades to honor his birthday and inauguration. No fewer than five political parties were founded on Washington’s Birthday – including the Republican Party in 1856 – because it was so important to Americans to honor the Father of Our Country.  The only time two states were admitted to the Union on one day – North and South Dakota on February 22, 1889 – came on Washington’s birthday in the centennial of Washington’s first year in office. Frank Woolworth opened his first store on Washington’s Birthday. February 22 was a big day in America for 100 years until it became mashed together with Lincoln’s birthday to become President’s Day in 1971.

In a Friday radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, currently the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said that we should remove Thomas Jefferson’s name from public buildings, since he was a slave owner: “If you plunge into his writings, especially the ‘Notes on the State of Virginia,’ you know that he knew slavery was wrong. And yet he did it,” he explained. “Over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor,” Buttigieg said. Since “naming something after someone confers a lot of honor,” we ought not to honor someone who owned other human beings.

A new bumper sticker may be “No schools named after slave owners,” but that poses a problem. A dozen Presidents once owned slaves, including seven who owned slaves while they were President. Even Union General Ulysses Grant owned a slave in the 1850s and his wife Julia owned four slaves during the 1860s.

Slavery is indeed terrible, but you must consider the standards of the 1790s rather than today’s standards. Both Jefferson and Washington wanted to free their slaves. To his credit, George Washington freed all the slaves he owned upon his death and that of his wife. Martha indeed freed all 123 of his slaves while she lived. Washington also provided a retirement fund for his elderly slaves, to be paid out of his estate.

For all those who are quick to judge our founding fathers based upon today’s standards, I ask you to make a comparison to those who are now telling us that “global warming” (or “climate change”) is the greatest threat to mankind – that “the world will end in 12 years” unless we completely change our energy sources today. Many who preach this doctrine (for indeed it is a “belief system,” a faith-like doctrine) fly around in private jets, guzzling fuel at a rate many times the normal automobile. They own numerous homes, each many times larger than the average middle-class home. Each home is heated or cooled year-round. These people (like Al Gore, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg or Hollywood royalty like Leonardo DiCaprio and Barbra Streisand) love to tell Mr. and Mrs. Smith on Main Street that they must “sacrifice” while these elite have a “carbon footprint” much larger than the Smiths.

How dare these elites criticize Jefferson and Washington for not giving up their main livelihood when these pampered multi-millionaires are not willing to give up a home or two or flying by private jet for their beliefs?

This may impact our coins and currency. Currently, Jefferson is on the nickel and the $2 bill. Washington is on the quarter and $1 bill.  Grant is on the $50 bill.  Should their faces be banned for once owning slaves? Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill is a double target – he owned slaves and during his military service was responsible for the death or relocation of tens of thousands of Indians. Perhaps Pete Buttigieg is justified in changing the name of the traditional Democratic fund-raising dinner – named after their Party founders, the “Jefferson-Jackson Day” dinner. Presumably, the Republicans are on safer ground with their equivalent “Founder’s Day dinner,” the Lincoln-Reagan Day.

For now, the National Motto “In God We Trust” may be safe on money since it was implemented by Mint Director James Pollock, who was anti-slavery as a Congressman and roomed in the same boarding house with Lincoln.

In time, I hope we come to our senses and realize that all men are flawed, but it’s wisest to study history from the perspective of the historical standards of that day rather than modern standards. How did those men act in light of their own times? The best way to do that is to think of a time 200 years from now and then ask: What are we doing today that will look equally horrendous to our descendants in the year 2219?  (I have some thoughts on that, but it’s best we each come to our conclusions on today’s greatest evils.)

Project 20/20 – Finding “Sleeper” Coins Revisited

Last week, I told you a little bit about Project 20/20, which will be a program for enlightened coin accumulation – using a “rifle shot” approach rather than a “shotgun” blast to find undervalued “sleeper” coins.

As I said, we will begin by bringing you highlights of recommendations in the major types of coins we like most – for their sheer beauty, profit potential and historical importance. We’ll highlight the most undervalued coins, starting with $2.50, $3, $5 and $10 Indians and Type II and III Liberty Double Eagles.

Now, I want to bring your attention to a series that is more modern, less rare, but becoming more valuable as time goes by. I’m talking about the American Gold Eagle, authorized by the 1985 Gold Bullion Act, early in Ronald Reagan’s second term. The first coins were minted in 1986 in denominations of $5, $10, $25 and $50, with gold content of 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 full Troy ounce of gold, respectively.

The obverse features the classical Augustus Saint-Gaudens design on the $20 gold coin commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt, a full-length Lady Liberty with flowing hair, holding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left with the Capitol building in the left background. The reverse design, by sculptor Miley Tucker Frost, features a male eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest with a female eagle and her hatchlings. The 22-karat alloy is the English standard known as “crown gold” (0.9167 fine), alloyed with a small amount of silver and copper to provide more wear-resistant surface.

Some of the early date American Eagle gold coins are becoming scarce, with prices being bid up for mint state 69, lower population $10 and $25 (1/4 and 1/2 ounce) coins. As with any other coin series, it pays to be selective, to use a “rifle” approach rather than a “shotgun” approach. One major statistical screen we use is a coin’s capitalization -- its price per unit times the population report of known coins in that grade.

We will be writing more on all these coins over time, but you can get ahead of the crowd by calling your account representative and asking about the “rifle” approach over the “shotgun” strategy to coin buying.

The Gold-Silver Ratio Highest in 27 Years

Gold can’t seem to stay above $1,300, nor can silver stay above $15.  After briefly touching $1,300 last Monday, May 13, and staying above $1,290 for most of the week, gold fell to $1,275 Friday morning and stayed below $1,280 over the weekend. Wall Street traders unloaded a net $429 million in gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) last week, hurting the metal’s price. Silver also fell below $14.50, extending its lofty gold-silver ratio (highest in 27 years) to 88-to-1, as silver is suffering from a global economic slowdown and the breakup of the trade tariff talks, since silver is primarily an industrial metal.

 

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