Burt Blumert was a champion of freedom, a modern day hero. He owned Camino Coin in Burlingame, CA, which he sold about a year or two ago.
Burt Blumert was a long-time friend of recent presidential candidate, and freedom champion, Ron Paul, who also once owned Camino Coin.
Burt Blumert was also the publisher of LewRockwell.com.
I first met Burt Blumert when I needed to sell some silver back around 2004 for a stock deal. Burt was the only dealer I could find who could give me a wire transfer the same day for the size of silver that I wanted to sell.
Since then, Burt became one of my top suppliers, and also a good friend. For a while, I did not know how important and influential Burt was to the freedom movement. Part of that must have been due to his wry humor that was lost on me. I once suggested to him that he should write, and he quipped, "Who has time for writing?" when I knew so little about who he was, and so much that he has written. I thought he was serious. I was clueless.
To get a glimpse into the man let me tell you a few stories.
Once when I was visiting his Coin Shop, waiting patiently to talk to him as I was waiting to do one of my typically large deals, he was on the phone for a long time trying to convince a man to not buy just a single ounce of gold, because the shipping cost would be an excessive premium on the cost of the gold, as shipping would cost too much for shipping and insurance for a single piece of gold, which is an exorbitant percentage, and thus, it would make far more sense to gather a group of friends together to buy at least 10 ounces, so as to save money on the shipping, and pay less of a percentage. Burt went around and around with this man, saying he would be happy to ship one gold coin if he insisted, but he passionately tried to talk him out of it, as Burt honestly thought that shipping only one coin would be a bad deal.
I was amazed and touched by several things. First, I was touched by the obvious love that Burt has for all of his customers, whether small or large. I was also astounded that he would spend so much time on one customer, particularly a small customer, when I was waiting right there, when my own purchase was so much bigger. I was also astounded that he was actually, and passionately, trying to talk the man out of the sale, for his customer’s sake!
But perhaps it also revealed something about Burt’s attitude towards where the gold price was headed. After all, I reasoned at the time that a 10% premium would be counted as next to nothing if the gold price were headed upwards of several 100% over the next few years.
Later, I learned that Burt published LewRockwell.com.
I always felt like Burt knew more about me than I did about him. Once he quipped, "Yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve had any of those heavy hitting stock traders buy silver, and when they start buying, you know it’s time to sell." I thought I should have reminded him that I was a large stock trader, and then launch into all the reasons why one should buy silver, but I just kept quiet. I suppose he probably knew that about me and was just teasing me. The humor of these bullion dealers, you have to watch out.
A few years after I met him, I finally attended one of Burt’s freedom conferences in Burlingame, CA. It was unlike many of the other mining shows I’ve been to in Canada. The only thing that is similar is the annual "Freedom Fest" in Vegas in the summer.
At the second freedom show I attended, I brought my brother Terbo Ted, who later was inspired to run for congress.
Ted remarked, "It’s funny, all my friends are so passionate about freedom and are so against government corruption, but all these old guys know so much more about it on an intellectual level, and they are all so cool, because they can express "down with the man" so much more eloquently! Our dad would have loved to know about these guys!"
Burt similarly had good things to say about us, as ignorant as we are, he remarked about us, "It’s good to see young people like Jason and Ted here, you guys are the future."
I’ve had a few serious conversations with Burt, too. I once asked him about the guys at GATA.org, who are doing all they can to reveal the market manipulation in the gold price. I have high respect for both GATA and Burt, so of course, I wanted to know what he thought.
Burt reminded me that he has been a gold dealer since 1959, and that it was outright illegal to own gold bullion until after 1975, so compared to back then, today we have a free market in gold. To him, the "young fellows" over at GATA should not be so surprised that governments make war on gold, as "it’s always been that way."
Burt sent me one of his essays in which he says GATA deserves to win the "Freedom Futility Award," in his essay: "The King Doesn’t Like Gold, Never Has, Never Will Unlike Mr. Chang."
Clearly, it’s always been that way during Burt’s lifetime, but not in all of human history. At times, governments rise up in support of gold, as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire‘s gold standard lasted over 600 years.
But also, people today just don’t know as much as men like Burt Blumert does. Part of the problem with being so smart is that you can be out of touch with what the common man knows.
People today often think that the U.S. government has the gold to back the currency in Fort Knox, not knowing that the U.S. government has only 261 million ounces of gold or less, which, even if they had the full amount is not enough to back even 1% of the money in U.S. banks!
Burt replied to my point about the Byzantine Empire with:
Yes, your history is right on, Jason; gold and silver were the only money through 1913. The founders were well aware of the evils of paper. Sure there were occasional earlier breaches, like the US War between the States, and the French had some relapses with their revolution. The British were also shaky every now and then.
So, I’ll amend my observations about the King to focus on WWI and after.
Our own history since then is sordid.
What is our role? We must expose the crooks and encourage dealers who don’t grasp the philosophy, but give the customers a fair shake. Education is the key, especially for the customers.
Some folks look to conspiracy as the single answer and that is my only point. I see the same problem with those folks who believe that exposing conspiracy in every event is the only action necessary. Gary North’s last two articles for LRC focus on that issue.
Jason, I sincerely believe that your work is superlative. Some of your readers, however, get lost along the way and think unmasking the bad guys would solve the problem.
Unfortunately, after 50 years at Camino I am spending these days looking for beaches to bask on. (I haven’t found any yet.) But, I don’t visit the office very much. Maybe we can have lunch with Lew one day soon. As you know he loves the Bay Area and visits regularly.
I do follow the markets and can report with certainty that when the gold price broke recently, one New York buyer, who wanted physical gold, ordered 50,000 Krugers. Dealers were paying up to $5 over melt last week. My best recollection was that the last time that happened was in the 1970s. I traded 100 of my own KRs for 100 American Gold Eagles and kicked in 1%. I may have to be patient, but I think I will come out Okay.
If someone was to bid $5 over for a Silver Eagle, I believe he would buy some coins.
Just some passing thoughts,
I realize that Burt started his gold coin dealership in 1959, which would have been when he was 30 years old. I’m going to be 39 tomorrow, so Burt "saw the light" 9 years earlier than I did in my lifetime, but in my defense, I’ll note that I became a gold and silver advocate by age 30, too.
I would have liked to have told Burt about my new coin shop, but now I’ll never get to make that phone call. I missed my chance to have lunch with Burt, but maybe I’ll need to call up Lew.
Here are some excerpts from our last few emails that we exchanged from late 2008:
Good morning Jason and congrats on the new baby.
Although I’m sort of retired from the metals business, I still snoop around and am happy to help my old clients and pals.
Of course, I’m involved with Lew every day and I actually have a book coming out next month, Bagels, Barry Bonds and Rotten Politicians.
It’s a compilation of some of my better satiric pieces. There are two sections devoted to Gold and I’ll make sure you get a copy.
As you know, I am a fan of yours and feel you accomplish a great deal alerting your readers to scamsters, but sometimes you "protesteth too much"
In any event, please see something I did a few years ago (it is in the book) "The King Doesn’t Like Gold, Never Has, Never Will Unlike Mr. Chang."
keep watching the rascals / yes, get the word out
Keep up the good work
The rascals who default on commitments deserve to be in jail. Those who cannot honor commitments because someone else defaulted on them may be pitied, but they still deserve a special place in hell.
For 50 years as a dealer, we never stored customer metals. At Coin Shows and Hard money Conventions, we shouted the message to all, "Take delivery of your metals."
Most listened, but just as there is a new audience for the Three Stooges every seven years, there are always fresh victims who will surrender their gold and silver for a piece of paper.
Keep spreading the message, Jason. If you help just one poor sucker to keep his gold and silver the struggle was worthwhile.
I want to focus on that first story I told you about Burt. Think of how important it is to convince a customer to convince a few of his friends to buy gold, too.
I did some more thinking about that. The U.S. Mint only has 1015 direct distributors. All mints work that way, with so few direct buyers. In turn those distributors can only handle a limited customer flow. In turn, their dealers can handle a limited customer flow, and so on.
At Rocklin Coin Shop, we handle about 50 customers a day, in a busy day, and being open 6 days a week means we can handle about 300 people per week, as, of course, many are repeat visitors. But the city of Rocklin is 50,000 people. To serve so many people nearly half of our customers, 166 of them, would have to open up their own coin shop, each serving another 300 customers, to serve the whole city!
The world needs a whole lot more Burt Blumerts, and we will sorely miss him.
April 6, 2009