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Value and worth

Most people I know have collections of something that they like. Many have stamps, banknotes, beer bottles, teacups, etc. The list goes on and you can find a lot of collectors at collector’s fairs and specialist shops all over the country spending vast amounts of money on them. Some collections are worth a significant amount a money.

Some of us collect coins and metal under the understanding that metals like gold will hold their value when the government print too many banknotes and debases our currency. Making the cash in your hand worthless. You don’t have to be very old to remember how much it took to fill a fuel tank when you started to how much it costs now. Money is just not a good item to keep for a rainy day. Just look at Zimbabwe where inflation was running at 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion percent (65 followed by 107 zeros). That gentlemen means the £50 note you put away for emergencies would not be enough to buy enough tissue paper to wipe your nose.

So what happens with your collections of stamps, teapots or matchbooks when society collapses? Well, that depends on what it is. Something like a gun collection, matchbooks, buttons or a steam engine would be worth something to you even it is was for barter. A collection of stamps, banknotes, cigarette cards, beer mats or, *sob*, Star Trek memorabilia not so much.

What about gold, silver and other metals? Well, I’m not an expert although I do believe they will keep their value against fiat currency, Western currency, while society is in place but I suspect not as much in the event of a collapse. I personally would have no idea how much to barter a loaf of bread for with gold or silver being the medium of exchange never mind platinum or copper. Metals are useful in a growing society but not in a survival situation where you cannot eat them or barter them. When we start to get on our feet and are able to feed ourselves and start to rebuild then gold, silver etc. will become valuable and useful beyond decoration. That usefulness is what makes then expensive.

I suspect that in the even of a societal collapse there will be many people with a significant amount of metals, in ingots or coins, who will simply starve, unless they use the ingots as a club, because they have nothing that a third party will accept for food, water or shelter. If you think otherwise try going into a shop now, not a jewellers, and try and buy a loaf of bread or some other mundane item with an old gold or silver coin or a bar of metal and see how you do.

What gold, silver, in fact anything is worth is what others are prepared to pay for it. Who will give someone a loaf of bread in exchange for a Rembrandt today? Now think about that same loaf of bread and the same Rembrandt when people are fighting to live. What could you barter for a loaf of bread? What is valuable now will not always be as valuable.

Think about it. Make sure you have useful things to barter, matches, tools, food, water, your skills. Learn something, go down your inventory list and put extra away above what you need in food, tools and medical supplies to use as barter. Even survival, first aid and instructional books will be worth their weight in gold (pun intended). Something that is worth something to everyone if possible. Those items could be what will keep you and yours alive.

2 comments to Value and worth

  • Skvez

    Gold’s primary use is for decoration. In a hard survival situation no one has the excess effort to care how he or she looks and so gold is of little value. Once society has picked up a little and people have excess to their immediate needs then they can afford pretty things and gold has value again.
    As far as buying things in the high-street with an old gold or silver coin, the big chain stores won’t because the people behind the till don’t have the authority to do so. Find a family run store and you might be surprised what you can buy stuff with. I’ve purchased things with Euro and Dollars in the UK because the person behind the counter was going there on holiday and saw the value in a commission-less trade. A lot of people won’t trade for gold or silver because they’re afraid it’s stolen, the older you are the more likely you are to get a sale.
    Which raises a point, in a TEOTWAWKI scenario prices will be fluid, people will set price based on what they think you can pay, just walk around a car boot sale sometime dressed in a good suit with a child dressed scruffy and compare the prices you are quoted to the prices s/he is quoted for things.

  • Skean Dhude


    Gold, Platinum and Silver are used a lot in electronics and I don’t see that coming back for a long time after a total collapse. I just see the rich wearing it to show they are rich, pretty much as they did for centuries while those less rich buy it to make it look like they are further up the ladder, again pretty much as it has been for centuries.

    I knew someone that loved to barter for everything. He used to get some really strange barters on their travels but had difficulty with gold or silver. Nobody knew how to value them and were concerned they were being ripped off. People don’t worry if real money is stolen and it could be. Only goods that can be traced and recovered seem to be the ones people are concerned about. Funny that.

    Good point on price setting. I agree about the fluidity of prices. Our existing pricing structures will be invalid then anyway and it will also depend on many things, including, as you say, how you look. In the meantime I’ll get my smelly jeans on next time I go to the car boot sales.

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