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By James R. Cook
I started selling gold in late 1972, more than two years before it was legal to own. I was selling restrikes of old gold coins like the Mexican 50 Pesos and the Hungarian Corona. The Department of the Treasury looked the other way on the sale of restrikes. On January 1, 1975 gold became legal to own. One of the persons most involved in legalizing gold was Jim Blanchard, who, among other things, started a monetary a conference in New Orleans that emphasized gold.
Meanwhile, I got to know a newsletter writer from California by the name of Howard Ruff. He had recently started his newsletter and had mentioned my company. I called Jim Blanchard and convinced him to have Howard speak. Jim didn’t know Howard and it took a lot of persuasion to get Howard in. It worked out. Howard gave a rousing talk and proved to be a popular speaker.
My speaker and star salesman, Jesse Cornish, and I went down to the same conference. I rented a room for Jesse to conduct a workshop. Then I got a printer to whip up some handbills. My wife and I handed them out to the attendees as they filed in. We were hopeful Jesse’s workshop on gold and silver would be well attended. The morning of Jesse’s workshop, Howard came by the rented room. I asked him if he’d like to say a few words. So Jesse got up and introduced Howard. The workshop was only scheduled for a half hour and, as Howard talked, Jesse began to pace back and forth in the hallway. The audience was captivated with Howard and time went by swiftly as they asked him questions. Soon Jesse was fuming, looking at his watch, swearing and muttering under his breath. I thought he would explode. “This is my workshop,” he hissed at me. After a time Howard called Jesse back up front, and Jesse finally gave an abbreviated talk.
Both of them went on to become fixtures at monetary conferences the world over for many years. Jesse handled some of the biggest gold buyers in America . Howard eventually wrote the best selling financial book of the decade and, at one time, had 140,000 subscribers to his newsletter. All these subscribers were directed to my company if they wanted gold and silver. It helped make us a large national company.
A few months later Jim Blanchard called me on the telephone. “I’m thinking about going into the gold business,” he told me. “Ouch,” I thought. Then he asked me a few questions about how things worked. Needless to say, he eventually became our major competitor. Frankly, he copied everything we did.
As most everyone knows, Jim was a paraplegic from an automobile accident he suffered in high school. He was uncannily successful in all his business ventures. It was as if life was trying to even the score for the tragedy he suffered. He sold the gold business for a lot of money at the perfect time. All the mining stocks he owned went through the roof. His newsletters, his monetary conference and his other business start-ups all prospered. I marveled at his timing.
Jim had a great fondness for gold. He believed in the yellow metal and he argued the case because of a solid grounding in Austrian economics. Oddly enough, the company that bears his name recently put out a special bulletin to their customers and others to sell their gold. It was quite astonishing. I have previously commented on this unusual turn of events. I have a nice relationship with the President of that company and I don’t want to disturb that. However, my opinion is radically different and especially so at this point in economic history. I like gold and don’t like rare coins as an alternative. I sometimes wonder if the Blanchard report, recommending that people sell their gold, is the ultimate signal for a trend reversal. After all, when a major gold dealer doesn’t want to sell it anymore, it’s the sign of a complete washout in enthusiasm for the yellow metal. Of such things are bottoms made.