The ground was covered in snow at first light this morning here in Iola, Wis.
Winter has also descended on the gold and silver market.
Both metals are being hammered in trading this morning.
Checking the handy Kitco website, I see gold is $1,162.30 a troy ounce, down almost $36 from yesterday’s closing price.
Silver has dropped over half a dollar to $15.87 an ounce.
For the sake of perspective, I checked what the closing price was at the end of 2013 to assess the damage done in the market.
Gold is now down for the year, but not by much.
The precious yellow metal closed out 2013 at $1,201.90. The present price is down 3.3 percent for the year.
Silver is where the severe damage has been inflicted. It closed 2013 at $19.339. The present price is 18.2 percent lower.
In recent weeks market commentators have often observed that the ratio of gold’s price divided by silver’s is quite high.
This morning that figure is 73.24, meaning the price of gold expressed in terms of the quantity of silver it takes to buy it is 73.24 ounces to 1 ounce.
Historically silver can be weaker than that. It can go to over 100 to 1.
On the other hand, if silver strengthens relative to gold, just to return to the 62.15 number that was true at the close out of 2013, the price of gold either will have to slide to $986.32 an ounce, or silver will have to climb to $18.70.
Which is more likely?
That is probably the wrong question.
Silver can meander in the markets in a relatively weaker position against gold for years. It can also strengthen. The uncertainty is what makes markets.
At the close of the year 1999 when gold was $288.50 and silver was $5.41, the ratio was 53.33.
To get back to that level, gold will have to slide to $846.35, or silver will have to climb to $21.79.
With the Baltimore show in full swing today, you can be sure the dealers on the bourse will take notice of the current bullion prices.
This will dampen the mood even if coin prices don’t follow bullion lower.
You can be sure smart buyers will take advantage of any weakness in the prices of desirable coins.
Just as we have a winter carnival in Iola to celebrate the season, people with cash can celebrate smart purchases made today in Baltimore.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."