Don’t Shoot the Messenger

In the past few months, I have had a little bit more time to work on my stamp & coin collections, and I came across 3 silver bars I picked up a few years ago.

Silver Stagecoach – Fractional Bar

I have been purchasing a fair bit of silver bars & rounds over the years when the price of silver is attractive for me. [ Please do not use this as investment advice – this is just my opinion ].

While organizing some of my silver bullion, I pulled out 3 of these Silver Stagecoach – 1 oz Fractional Bars. It reminded me of a sad episode about 8-9 years ago that still bothers me to this day. At that time, I went to see a collector who had some stamps & coins for sale. He was referred to me from a friend who knew me, so the gentleman I went to see felt at ease knowing I was referred by a mutual friend. He was 85 at the time and had served in the Korean war and participated in the Kapyong Valley battle. I will call him Dan for this article, to keep his identity private. He has since passed away.
When I met Dan, we had a nice chat & he freely told me some of his stories of his time in Korea. I listened attentively, as this was a rare treat for me to be able to speak in person with a Veteran. After about 20 minutes, we got on to the topic of stamps and coins. He had collected for nearly 40 years and concentrated on the Queen Victoria issues of Canada exclusively. He had quite a collection, but the best items were missing from the collection. I asked him where they were. He told me he had run into some good fortune sometime ago and had made a deal for some silver. I began to get a little nervous. Dan told me that he had been approached by someone who told him he had a lot of silver bars that he wanted to sell or trade. Dan had agreed to trade him his prized Canadian Mint Jubilee & Small Queen stamps and some cash and for the silver. He initially purchased 200 1oz bars. He later purchased another 300 1oz bars for some other stamps & mostly cash.

FAKE Silver Stagecoach – Fractional Bar

He then proceeded to bring out 20 of the silver bars and proudly showed them to me [see above] and said “they can be yours if the price is fair”. So I took a quick look and he must have realized that something was not right. I paused and asked him “do you still know the person you bought these from?”. He said no, and that the person had died a few years back, but that he had been in the import/export business of some kind. He mentioned that he had been helping his relatives in China who were smuggling the silver out to save enough money so they could leave China.
So, I told Dan that ALL the bars were fakes and were most likely silver plated copper and had almost no value to me at all. He became so angry at me that I almost left. He was irate that I had dared say this to him. I tried to calm him down, but he would have none of it. So I picked up my things and said that I was sorry that he had been lied to, but that I would return in a few days with some proof for him so that he would realize that I was not trying to deceive him or rip him off in any way..
A week later, I returned with one of my own REAL bars which I showed him and demonstrated why I felt these were fake. At the time, I did not have the materials to test for silver (acid test kit), but I was so sure, I told him that I would like to file down one of his bars & that he could keep the real one. He agreed. So I took a metal file & started to aggressively file down a corner of the bar. Low & behold, once the silver plating was gone, even he could see that the bars were nothing more than copper that had been plated with silver or nickel. I could not be sure.

Dan started to weep and said “My wife told me not to trust that F—-R!!”. I smiled and said “I don’t listen to my wife either all the time’. We both had a good chuckle. He insisted that I take my silver bar back, but I refused. A deal is a deal. I thanked him for his past service and we parted on good terms.
Every now & then, I think of Dan when I get an offer of a deal that is too good to be true.. and it usually is. ALWAYS do your research before you buy any collectibles or precious metals.

Here is a real simple way to see if you have the real bars or fakes.

Real Bars have Oblong Corners & are NOT Missing a Leg
Fake Bars have Sharper Corners & are Missing a Leg