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Silver dimes or magic beans?

Have you seen articles recommending that when you buy precious metals that you should get some of the smaller sizes to use to make purchases after the U.S. dollar goes to the final resting place of all fiat currencies?

I have.

It is logical to assume that when you need a gallon of milk that a one-ounce gold coin is not the easiest form of payment.

However, with so few people around who actually know what real gold, or real silver looks like, will even fractional sizes do the trick?

I have never seen anyone write about this possibility.

Has anyone tested the hypothesis?

Silver today is $14.71 on the Kitco website.

That means the silver value of a pre-1965 Roosevelt dime is $1.05.

Take three or four of these to the local grocery store and try to buy a gallon of milk with them.

Will the cashier – and ultimately the store manager that you will have to talk with – even recognize them for what they are?

This is one of the most publicly recognized silver coins that exists today.

Won’t they instead look at you as if you had given them some magic beans?

Now if you are treated like that in normal times when people are still worried about the reputation of the store and keeping all customers happy, how do you think they would treat you if the milk they had was the last that was ever going to come to that store until social order was restored?

You and I know that silver dimes are a known quantity. But they have to be recognized by both parties to a transaction in order to have value.

That clerk, that manager, would probably think they were simply dimes worth 10 cents and you are a pain in the neck trying to pull a fast one.

Financial chaos will not likely provide an instant education for these individuals.

The odds are that even in times of trouble, unlocking value in gold and silver coins will still find us dealing with the same small circle of knowledgeable people as we do today.

That, of course, takes time and special effort.

If we want that gallon of milk as a means of survival, we had better find some other means of paying for it.

Perhaps the World War II G.I. and his use of cigarettes, chocolate bars and nylon stockings has more to teach us about daily survival in any post-dollar world than today's vendors of small silver coins.

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."

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you’ll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.