My Blog List

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Private Mints and Politics

Folks that purchase silver rounds - one ounce coins generally minted in .999 silver - are usually familiar with the Sunshine Mint in Idaho.  They are one of the more recognizable brands out there.

Sunshine will produce coins for anyone, in any design you'd like.  One fellow, a guy from North Carolina named Bernard von NotHaus, had a bunch of coins produced.  Bernard is now in a bit of hot water.  With the federal government.

Bernard had the audacity to produce a coin that was somewhat similar in design to some US silver dollars.  I'd say the closest example would be the Peace Dollar which was last produced in 1935.

Here's an image of their $5 silver piece -

Here's an image of the US Peace Dollar - 

To me, this is clearly not US government currency, but I guess some folks might be confused by the front of the coin.  What REALLY gets me is the reverse of the coin.

Since when did the US government start engraving their coins with a toll-free number (800-NewDollar) and website address (


Oh, don't bother calling the number or going to the website.  Both have been shut down by order of you-know-who.  If you go to the Wayback Machine you can get some of their cached pages.

Bernard's real audacity was in suggesting that people use his pure silver coins in lieu of "real" money.  Fiat currency and the like.  He had an organization that wanted to do away with the Federal Reserve and to go back to a real currency.

Heresy, I say!

This didn't sit too well with TPTB, and they shut him down.  His trial just ended this past Friday.  Any guess how that turned out?
He was found guilty of making counterfeit coins and an intent to defraud.
One of his arguments was that he was just following that dusty old document.  You know, the US Constitution.

Silly boy.

The Constitution grants the federal government the power to produce coin.  From Article One, Section Eight -
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
It also prohibits the states from making coin.  From Article One, Section Ten -
No state shall ... coin money;
I'm sure I'm splitting legal hairs here, but I don't see anything about private parties being prohibited from making coins.

And obviously, the federal government has agreed with that perspective, as we have hundreds of private companies that spit out tons of coins a year. The Golden State Mint has coins which are spot-on replicas of US coins. Like Bernard, their coins are also stamped with the name of the mint so that they are distinguishable from real currency.

Are they next on the "hit list"?

In a similar vein, a number of states have passed, or will be passing legislation that will allow individuals to pay debts with US gold and silver coins.  The value of the coins would be determined by their gold or silver content, NOT the face amount of the coin (for instance, a one-ounce American Gold Eagle has a face amount of $50, but is worth over $1,400).
"People sense that in the era of quantitative easing and zero interest rates, something has gone haywire with our monetary policy," said Jeffrey Bell, policy director for the Washington-based American Principles in Action, which helped shape the bill.


Critics of the gold standard say it limits countries' control over its monetary policy and leaves them vulnerable to financial shocks, such as the Great Depression. But supporters argue that the current financial system's dependence on the Federal Reserve exposes the value of U.S. money to the risk of runaway inflation.
All together now:  Duh!

Well, at least when Bernard is released from prison, he'll have all of his gold and silver to fall back on -
The United States is seeking the forfeiture of about 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals, valued at nearly $7 million. The forfeiture trial, which began Friday before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Voorhees, will resume April 4 in the federal court in Statesville, N.C.
No.  Don't make him melt it down, or deface the stuff.  Just take it.

Truth.  Justice.  The American Way.

Please click our advertiser links. They pay us so you don't have to. A click a day is all we ask!

Copyright 2011 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


I drive my tractor in pearls... said...

So my question is this.... If "making money" was illegal by example of this fellow because "only the US Government" can print money, then wouldnt that also make the Federal Reserve illegal by use of the same, silly Constitution - the one they used to convict said fellow?

Or am I missing something?

suek said...

My question is ...why Bernard, and not the Sunshine Mint? Bernard was the customer, and the possessor, but didn't actually mint them.

Aside from the constitutional issues, I don't understand this...

Anonymous said...

His real problem was not in having the silver, but in advocating people use that silver instead of the official US Govt currency.

I'd say it's a given the USG will take his silver. And I'd bet they won't pay him for the silver content either.

Chief Instructor said...

Pearls, great question. You're right - the portion of the FRB that creates money out of thin air is the "private" part. Hell, technically, even the Treasury Department is acting unconstitutionally by printing up paper money, as the Constitution only allows coins...

Sue, a great question as well! As noted, he possessed it, and wanted to use it, but he didn't mint it. Sunshine and every other mint in the country that produces silver rounds that even marginally resemble US coin should be in jail.

Anon, yeah, the only thing it seems like they could have tagged him with is the "intent to defraud" garbage.

And with our forfeiture laws, he doesn't have a chance in hell of ever seeing that silver and gold again. THAT is absolutely criminal.

I drive my tractor in pearls... said...

Is he going to appeal? This could be interesting....

suek said...

Your "must read" off topic article of the day:

suek said...

>>he doesn't have a chance in hell of ever seeing that silver and gold again>>

Wonder if he had a clue before this all went down, and had the sense to stash it...

Seems like he _had_ to know he was tempting fate - at the very least...