This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Silver traded for over $30 a troy ounce on two separate days in early December but could not close at that level on either.
Then it fell.
On Dec. 8 it closed New York trading at $28.224 a troy ounce. Closing prices on the two prior days were $29.748 and $29.705.
Gold, too, tried and failed to stay at record high levels over $1,400, closing at $1,382.50 a troy ounce.
The precious yellow metal had set a closing record high of $1,415.30 on Dec. 6, eclipsing the $1,409.80 prior record of Nov. 9. During the day on Dec. 7 it reached as high as $1,431.10 before closing at $1,408.30.
Silver has not closed at the $30 level since February of 1980, when it was retreating from the $50 record high of the month before.
Silver in a standard Morgan dollar or a current commemorative silver dollar is worth $23.20 at $30 a troy ounce.
Standard pre-1965 U.S. silver coins have a metallic value equal to 21.45 times face value at $30 an ounce silver.
Because of backed up refineries and slow payments, even when silver was $50 in 1980, hobbyists could not sell their silver coins for more than 24 times face value – a one-third discount to metallic value.