In Jim Cook's Archive


Thirty years ago, to the month, I took my small coin collection to the bank and sat waiting quietly outside the bank president’s office. I needed money to keep Investment Rarities going. I’d started the company in 1972 with a partner. We’d had a few good months in 1974 when silver ran up to $6.40 an ounce. However, 1975 was tough sledding and our money ran out in the fall. My partner left the company and sold his stock back to us for pennies. I was alone with two secretaries and the bills were piling up. The secretaries had to be paid and the rent was overdue. I was worried about the phones getting cut off and I hadn’t taken a salary in months.

Finally, Cecil the bank Prez waived me into his office. I spread the coins out on his desk. “What are they worth?” he asked. “About $7,000,” I replied. He looked at me wearily and sighed. “OK, I’ll give you $6,000 on them, but they better be worth that much, Cook.”

That was a great day for me and the company. I could make payroll and pay the rent. Now, however, I had no reserves. I had to do something fast to survive. Gold and silver were dead, but I managed to take on a line of wood-burning stoves and began to sell them. The first energy crisis was in the news and wood burning made a mild comeback as a heating source. In the next few months we sold enough of these heavy steel stoves to keep the doors open. Eventually, gold and silver revived.

Since then, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I’ve been in even tighter squeezes. For years we hung by our fingernails. No one expected us to last in the face of one severe financial crisis after another. Yet, we survived. I learned that no matter how bleak the outlook, or how desperate the situation, there was always a way out, always a solution, if you looked for it hard enough. I also learned there is a power in the universe that is there for you to use to help you get through any adversity or difficulty in life. This understanding is in itself a greater reward than all the earthly treasure I have struggled to pile up.

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