Bill Ayers, the proprietor of Per Diem Metals joins us to discuss the fabrication of fractional coins, the process and much more…
In this episode, we discussed:
Jeffrey: Hey everyone, it’s Jeff here and today I wanted to share with you an interview with a new friend. A friend that I met recently. As many of you know, I was at the Silver Summit, it was in San Francisco, just a couple of weeks ago and the night before the event I attended The Bix Weir event. He had a party through an event on the Friday before and I met a fellow named Bill Ayers. It turns out, he has a really interesting story and a couple of businesses that I wanted to share with you. As some of you know, I’ve posted on the forum about this, but Bill makes these really amazing one-tenth ounce fractional silver rounds. I wanted to interview him and hear more about the process, it’s fascinating. We’ve also been talking about refining lately and so this kind of dovetails with that.
There were also some questions I had put out the forum and I think fractional silver, fractional gold, it’s somewhat of a controversial topic in the realm of what to do buy because a lot of fractionals that exist are more expensive. They carry a higher premium and I may have actually been confused as to the reasons, but we don’t have to go there now. Anyway, Bill’s here with us. Bill welcome, thank you for being here.
Bill: Thank you for inviting me.
Jeffrey: We’re actually doing this in person, which is probably something that will never happen, again. Most of the time we’re doing these interviews, it’s over the phone or on Skype, so this is also an added benefit. Bill, tells us a little bit about your story and what lead to these world of one-tenth silver rounds?
Bill: Well, okay, that could be a huge story, so I’ll try to hit the highlights. Just like probably most of everyone in this community, I started thinking about the economic situation, what was happening. For me, the trigger was 2007, 2008. I started looking at money, what’s real money, et cetera. That’s where my journey started with previous metals. Now on the side, the casting and making of things I wanted to make a silver ring years and years ago, so I looked up on YouTube how to cast a silver ring. I bought the stuff and started experimenting, loved it and so I been fiddling around with that for years.
Now what got me into the coins, I was working a gig at a big publishing company. I’m more an entrepreneur. I’ve had more businesses then jobs. I was in a job, sitting around eight hours a day trying to look busy, going blind looking at the computer like really my eye sight getting worse by the day and feeling pretty much miserable. I started thinking about different business that I could do and searching things online, and found the people who did hand cast silver on YouTube. I like that, but I thought I want to do something completely different. They go big and chunky, so I said, “Well, let’s go small. What would that be like?” It was this last summer when there was a big silver crunch and you couldn’t get the pre-65 coins and I thought, “Well, they’re going for 50 to 100% premium. What is it happens again? What happens if silver goes to $300.00 dollar an ounce? Will people move towards smaller units, I don’t know.”
As I fun hobby, nights and weekends, I started trying to cast and I quickly learned it’s not easy. The one-tenth ounce, what happens when you pour it, it just turns into a little bead. If you go half ounce or bigger, it’ll fill a mold, but the surface tension on silver is so high at that small quantity you can’t do it.
Bill: That started my eight month journey of figuring out how the heck to do this. I did probably three or four different types of mold and as many different types of materials to finally figure out how to do it and to get it like a coin. You know, flat on both sides and that’s the trick.
Jeffrey: What did you finally come around to what answers this high surface tension issue?
Bill: Without giving away all my secrets…….but I will. I’ll tell you because even I tell you, trust me it’s a huge journey every step. I probably told myself eight times, this can’t be done, I can’t do it.
Bill: Every time I said that, I got pissed off at myself and said, “That’s why I need to do it'< c that means someone else has tried and quit that stuff, so I kept doing it. The more you hit, the more valuable it’s going to be.
Bill: Right, so what I came up with was a kiln system. I built a kiln. I looked up online how to build a kiln like all from scratch in my garage, built a kiln that goes up over 2,000 degrees and I created, kind of think of it like a waffle iron. A bottom piece with the molds and you have to pick the grains of silver and put them in each and every little mold, like weigh every grain, put it in. It’s a horrible process. It is tedious. You heat it up, it melts and so you have all these little balls of silver sitting in these little molds and you take another piece of mold and lay it very gently on top, and it presses it, right?
You let it get up to heat again to make sure the bubbles are all out and you very, very, very carefully take it out and set it off and cool it.
Jeffrey: So does that second mold, is that where the dye and the way you’re stamping it or is that a different process?
Bill: No, okay so then I have what’s more or less blanks, right? Once they cool out enough, I can dump them out of the mold, then I stamp them one-by-one on a block of stone I have in my garage with a custom stamped hammer. BAM, BAM. One-by-one and then I put them in a tumbler. It’s a typical rock tumbler, metal tumbler, jewelry tumbler and tumble them and that polishes it. Take them out, dry them off and they’re done. That’s it.
Jeffrey: That’s fascinating, so you’re able to identify what you wanted to do and then find a lot of the information on YouTube, which is a testament to the fact that there’s information out there…
Jeffrey: …at our fingertips…
Jeffrey: …but then you still ran across the challenges that any of us would have. Now you’ve found, at least, some of the processes that you need. They’re unbelievable and so along the journey there must have been – a know there were lots of resistance points, can you describe one part of the journey where you thought, “This is it.” I mean you said that you were going to quit at each stage…
Jeffrey: …what was the worst or the hardest part?
Bill: Okay, so probably in experimenting with the molds, I made that up myself. I know no one else that does something like this, so I went through all these standard mold types and none of them worked. I’m like, “Well that’s why there aren’t tenth ounce rounds hand poured because you can’t do it”, and that’s when I said, “Screw that. I’m going to make it up. I’ll figure it out.” I started thinking about other devices that do similar things and I realized the problem – you know first you have the problem, you have this bead of silver, you can’t pour it anything because it’ll be lopsided on side, or the mold’s not hot enough and it’s so small, and all this stuff. You can’t get it exact measurement, so you have to smoosh it, that’s your only option. I figured what I’d smoosh this stuff, well a waffle iron.
Okay, how do you they work? Heat on both sides. I actually thought about making a kiln that was like a waffle iron and then once I went through the mental process of that, I’m like, “Nah, forget that.” That’s beyond what I want to get into.
Bill: That was a big one. When I went through, probably about, my third or fourth mold type and realized that there’s nothing that exist that will do this; that I could find anyway. That was probably the biggest challenge.
Jeffrey: If any of you want to see them, you have a website. Now tell me a little bit about where the name came from?
Bill: Right, okay, great. As some of you may know, there’s a rumor, myth, saying, whatever – people have opinions – that one-tenth ounce of silver is historically the wage for a day of labor. You know, carpenter, field worker, whatever, so it’s per day, per diem, so I called them per diems.
Jeffrey: That’s cool.
Bill: That’s where the name came from.
Jeffrey: Yeah, yeah I know. It makes sense, that makes total sense and by the way, the website is per diem…
Jeffrey: …perdiemmetals.com — Okay and we’ll have that some place wherever you’re listening. Now that you have this process and I understand we’ve talking about how orders are coming in, you’ve sold some, you have people now contacting you through the website asking about custom orders…
Jeffrey: How do you see this unfolding……going forward?
Bill: It’s a great question. I don’t know for sure, but I have a couple of ideas. When I started this, I working that job. Since then, I’ve been laid off and that’s when I went, “Okay, I’m going to go more into this and create more of a business out of this”, but I also know that this is sort of a niche within a niche within a niche, and it may never become anything substantial, but I love to do it. I’ve had a ball. I like the people I deal with. I’ll just keep doing that regardless, right? As a business owner, I believe that’s what real key ingredient to any really successful business, that you do it anyway. Okay with that said, I also see if silver starts increasing in price, as it should at some time – you know you look at historical processes – it’s going to happen. That could make the smaller denominations more interesting.
As we were talking before, if an ounce of silver is $300.00 dollars, it’s like carrying a $300.00 dollar bill in your pockets; it’s not very useful, but if you have a tenth of an ounce now it’s $30.00 bucks, that’s more usable.
Bill: If that happens, if silver goes to $300.00, I guarantee you, you’ll not be able to get pre-65 coins. Like everyone has them, is already not selling them.
Jeffrey: We’ve seen in horrible prices there is a black hole in the physical market where silver continues to be absorbed despite poor sentiment and lower prices. You bring up, I think, a really good point and this is actually an interesting segue into a question that came up in the forum. There were plenty of comments and people are definitely supportive of this as an idea. Some others are interested in refining and there’s somewhat of a dovetail with refining, in terms of, how you get silver to the point where you can put it into these molds.
I guess you’ve touched on it, so you know, the question was, “Do you see much of a future for smaller denominations and if so, -yeah, I mean I guess you’ve answered this also – maybe if you have anything else to say about having a special usage. I mean there’s two ways it could go down, right? It could be that silver is so valuable that you don’t really want to part with it. You may not want to transact with it, maybe it’s too valuable for any kind of transaction and that these coins are privately minted by you. They have a collector value just on their own however, there’s another scenario where, hey if someone really doesn’t want to transact in dollars and yet you’re buying smaller items, if you’re in a great market kind of situation, you don’t want to pull out a $300.00 dollar ounce ……American Eagle. You’d rather, and maybe not even barter with an old gold necklace, … if you had these fractionals …
Jeffrey: Can you just add to that?
Bill: Yeah, so right on. At heart, I am a real anarchist. I wouldn’t even say libertarian. I’m more. I believe that we, as humans, are capable and able of governing ourselves, and when I say anarchist, I don’t mean chaos. I mean self-rule Basically, do what you say you’re going to do and don’t hurt other people. There it is, we can all agree on that, right? If we do that, things work, right? Given the opportunity to. Humans are very giving and loving when they’re not being stepped on, or stolen from.
With that said, you wondering what I’m getting to. Silver is a way of getting around the controlling governments. If you control food, money, or energy, you can control the other two. If you control them, you control everything. I’m not trying to change the system, I’m stepping out of it, okay. I’m not going to fight the Federal Reserve. I’m not going to fight the laws they’re govern in place, I’m just going to make them irrelevant to my life because we are empowering all of that. It’s not them, it’s us. We’re doing because we agree to, right?
I’m already doing trade with silver. I have a process that if people want to send me in their old generic coins, or silver they don’t want, I then give them back per diems, at a rate, right? A cost, but there’s a step up. These per diems are selling at 40-60% over stock, so I’m already trading in silver.
Jeffrey: Yeah, this has been not only something that’s really cool and a fun hobby, or passion, but it’s something that allows you to do what all of us, in a way, where we’re giving ourselves an opportunity to step out of the system, or step aside, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Bill: Yeah and I see no reason to fight it. I think over time and history as shown that, that doesn’t work, so why do it?
Jeffrey: Well, I thank you really. This has been great Bill. What I’ll do is post this somewhere in the forum and I’m sure there’ll be some more questions after we post it, but in the meantime, let me just repeat the website where you can go and see these and/or get in contact with Bill directly. It’s perdiemmetals.com.
Jeffrey: I’ve seen the website. It’s very simple to navigate.
Bill: Thank you.
Jeffrey: I appreciate it.
Bill: It has been fun.