What is the “Gov’t. Issued 1965 Treasure Map” — Can You Find “Treasure Bags” in 776 Cities?

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, January 16, 2011

How can you find sacks of treasure located around 776 cities around the country? That’s the pitch from Retirement Millionaire from Stansberry & Associates — the ad, which is one of those good ol’ video ads that doesn’t happen to link to a text version, even includes a “treasure map” of those cities around the country where you should be able to find this treasure.

In fact, Dr. David Eifrig says that 12 or 13 billion of these common coins were spread around the country, enough for everyone to have a sack full. There wasn’t anything rare or precious about the coins that became this “treasure”, but in the early 1960s with social programs and war spending in Vietnam some folks started hoarding and hiding these government-created silver coins — and it was a decision by President Lyndon Johnson to cease production of 90% pure silver coins that created what Eifrig calls this “bag of treasure” opportunity.

So, anyone still holding these treasure bags 45 years later would be sitting on a fortune. And Eifrig says that owning caches of these silver coins even now is one of the only ways to preserve your wealth — and even that we might go back to some kind of currency that’s backed by silver or gold in the future.

He also says that he’s created a map of the “hoarders” who will sell you the “treasure bags” for a “small premium” — those are the 776 locations on their “treasure map.”

So what are they talking about?

Well, I don’t know who the 776 “hoarders” are that Eifrig has identified — but it must be some sort of list of accredited or somehow endorsed coin dealers. Many coin shops will deal in these “treasure bags” of coins, though they’re more commonly referred to (not in this ad, of course — that would make it too easy for you to understand it without subscribing) as “junk silver”.

Yes, exactly the kind of thing I’ve written about any number of times — and I don’t want to bore you by repeating exactly what I’ve said before, so I’ll just tell you that these “treasure bags” are bags of beaten-up, culled coins (meaning, they have no collectible value because they were circulated and heavily used) from before 1965, the time when Lyndon Johnson did indeed take US coinage off the silver standard. Before that, going back a century or so at least, US dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars were 90% silver — and in the years before (but especially after) the coinage changed, those coins were hoarded by folks who believed the “real” silver money was worth more than the new coins that were made mostly of copper and zinc.

These “treasure bags” of junk silver, as well as smaller caches (like a roll of old pre-1965 dimes, for example), are indeed available not just on ebay, but from many large coin dealers. This has historically been one of the easiest ways to own silver at a small premium to the melt value of those coins, and sometimes even at a discount when silver wasn’t perceived as the hot investment that it is seen as today (in part, I expect, since you’re not really allowed to actually melt down legal tender).

Each dollar worth of this pre-1965 currency had roughly .715 ounces of silver in it, whether that was four quarters or ten dimes, so the “treasure bags” are usually sold by face value — $1,000 bags, for example, have $1,000 in face value coins and therefore include roughly 715 ounces of silver, and so it would probably cost you a bit over $20,000 to buy this particular $1,000 worth of spare change. $100 bags represent about 71.5 ounces on average (all of this is making a global assumption about how much wear the coins have received and therefore how much silver has “worn off”, so they could all be slightly off if you actually melted down the coins). You can buy or sell junk silver through lots of dealers who have active web-based stores like the NWT Mint or APMEX, and also through many local coin dealers, who I assume are those “hoarders” in the “treasure map” that EIfrig references.

Of course, discovering an old cache of pre-1965 coins in your grandfather’s basement might make you rich overnight, whereas buying the “treasure bags” now just means you’re buying silver at perhaps a slightly lower price than you’d pay for a 100 ounce Johnson Mathey silver bar or a few rolls of American Eagle silver coins, so dramatic wealth from this silver would not be much different from dramatic wealth from any other physical silver investment that you could make right now — they would all depend in the silver price going up substantially from this point.

Which is possible, certainly. Heck, some pundits and newsletter writers will even go so far as to say it’s inevitable, given the current monetary policy and the continuing global debt and depreciation crisis, but you’ll have to use your own prognostications about silver to predict the wealth-protecting or wealth-generating impact of a “treasure bag” on your family’s fortune. Just keep in mind that there’s nothing magical about junk silver bags, they’re just possibly a little bit cheaper than many other forms of silver (and a bit more mysterious and exciting, perhaps, since you can still occasionally find a 1964 dime that’s worth two dollars in your pocket change). Buying silver right now at something near the spot price is speculating on the future value of that silver, not finding a “treasure” that’s currently worth far more than you paid.

I personally own some “junk silver” and I like to pick up a little bit when it looks relatively inexpensive from time to time, though I’ve never bought it by the bag or made it a substantial part of my investment strategy (and honestly, the premium on all physical silver investments right now, following the huge run in silver late last year, makes me a little nervous). If you want more detail on “junk silver” and this kind of investment in culled and hoarded coins, you can see my much longer commentary from when Dr. Eifrig pitched something very similar as a way to “buy silver for $2.08” last month.

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