“… he was now definitely an old man, and headed at last for silence…” H.L. Mencken

Jack Rusak Quote

William Jennings Bryan said that. He spoke those words at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the 9th of July 1896.

William Jennings Bryan was the greatest orator of his time, three times a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America.
Bryan was also the role model for the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz and the foil of Clarence Darrow and cannon fodder for H.L. Mencken in the Old Courthouse in Dayton Tennessee 21st of July 1925.

Bryan died soon after the “Monkey Trial” and Mencken noted in his eulogy.

“It was plain to everyone, when Bryan came to Dayton, that his great days were behind him  that he was now definitely an old man, and headed at last for silence.”

( The eulogy in its entirety makes for compelling reading. You can find it here here)

That speech, destined to be known for evermore as the Cross of Gold speech, was Bryan’s greatest moment.

A lot of changed since the voice of William Jennings Bryant thundered across the American political landscape.

Today we’re no longer on the gold standard and even silver certificates are a thing of the past.

In fact the American dollar is without foundation at all except for the assurances of Donald J Trump.

But that’s not why we’re here.

I talked about my lucky coins in various venues recently and today I will expand upon that theme.

Jack Rusak

There’s never been a time man or boy that I can remember that I have not carried one or more lucky tokens in my kit.

Of course the number of coins and the configuration has changed over the years as my fortunes have ebbed flowed and my tastes changed.

Coin Stack
Carl’s Pocket Change

 

( A couple of caveats.

1… I also pack two modern Sacagawea golden dollars dated 2017 and 2018. They are not included in the graphic as they are not relevant to my story.

2… While all the coins I actually pack with the exception of the modern dollars were minted in 1964 and earlier, I have replaced the 1964 Kennedy half-dollar with one from 1967 for the photography session.
Reason being the 1964 Kennedy is pristine and handling the coin could reduce its value

3… For the purposes of calculations in the story I’ve decided to use the year 1964 as a base.
Reason being in 1964 all of these coins were in common circulation and within the course of a year the average American could expect to at least occasionally come across all of them in his or her daily commerce.
Even the Indian Head Penny was a frequent visitor in my change drawer.
Now back to the story)

Pocket Change
Carl’s Pocket Change

The graphic places the face value of these coins at the impressive sum of $0.98.

You can’t buy much today for $0.98 in Donald J Trump’s America and even less tomorrow as Donald’s attack on the American consumer unfolds through his misguided trade wars.

But what about the base year 1964?

According to the CPI calculator in today’s dollars that $0.98 would cost
you $7.98 in goods and services today.

Now personally I believe that estimation is low.
Example, in 1964 that $0.98 would get you 3.2 gallons of gas. Today in my area that $7.98 will only cop you 2.8 gallons of go juice.

At Sam’s Restaurant (long gone) down at the Farmers Market in 1964 I could buy a business man’s lunch which consisted of extra cut steak ( t-bone) with two vegetables, homemade rolls, iced-tea, and homemade pie for dessert for the handsome price of $1.57.

Even the Inflation calculator tags that $1.57 at $12.73.

No way can you get a steak dinner with all the trimmings for $12.73.
No way can you eat that well for that little today

In short the numbers don’t “add up”

But that’s not the whole story. There is still treasure in those old coins.

Coins
Real Silver Coins

The silver coins pre-1964 WERE REAL silver coins, not the ersatz clads we have today.

So there’s another way to calculate value, using the melt value of the coins as opposed to their face value.

Now the melt value changes minute-to-minute as the price of silver changes throughout the day so please note that these prices are only valid at the time I wrote this story.

Let’s see what we have. Using the melt value calculated at the current spot price of silver I am packing a fat $9.88, already a nice profit over inflation.

Melt Value

Once we add in the 3 pennies we pump up our treasure to $13.64, a full 164% over inflation numbers.

Not a bad day’s work.
And the point of this story?

If you have any coins from pre -1964 or an elderly relative with a jar of dimes and quarters, or run across a jar of coins at a yard or estate sale going at face value then snap them up and you may well find yourself in Fat City.

You may find their melt value beats the face value all hollow and brings new meaning to the old saw “a dime’s worth of difference”.

A Carl Denham commentary

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