In Jim Cook's Archive


I stopped in to see Harry last week.  I had a paper for him to sign.  Harry was my first customer back in 1973 when I started selling silver.  My wife had been after me all week to take her to the International Mall in Tampa.  Harry lives in St. Petersburg so I figured I could do both in one day.  The two hour trip to St. Petersburg was uneventful.  My wife drove and I worked on my newsletter.  The GPS took us right to Harry’s condominium.   We parked across the street.

Harry is 98 years old.  A sign on his door told us to knock hard until he opened the door.  I knew he was deaf because the day before I had to yell into the phone to tell him we were coming.  Finally he opened the door.  “Let’s go up to the conference room on the top floor,” he said pushing his way out on what he claimed was a brand new walker.  The old building had a single elevator and soon we were on the 8th floor looking out at the bay.

Harry was always fond of needling me so he started in right away.  I teased back that it was his lucky day when I first called on him.  Actually, he had answered my original ad in the Minneapolis newspaper.  The small ad offered a free copy of Harry Browne’s “How To Profit From the Coming Deregulation.”  I had gone to Harry’s home to see him and convinced him to buy 10 bags of pre-1965 U.S. silver coins.  The bags were $1200 each and with a face value of $1,000 the downside risk was $200 a bag.  It was the silver buy of a lifetime.  As silver had gone up Harry bought more.  He also gave me $5,000 along with eight other investors to start Investment Rarities.  We discarded the name Midwest Silver Distributors and moved into a new building with our new name.

Harry rode silver up and in 1980 he sold most of it capturing a handsome profit.  He was back in the market in the 1980’s and continued to accumulate silver.  Over the years I had managed to buy out my other shareholders.  Through it all Harry wound up owning 20% of the company.  Eventually I paid him $1 ½ million for his stock.

Harry’s living proof of the buy and hold strategy.  He sold in 1980 when the price went to $50 an ounce but he got back in and still holds a large quantity of silver.  Other than his hearing impairment and a curling posture from osteoporosis Harry is the same guy at 98 that he was 40 years ago.  Harry was never married.  He had a lady friend years ago but she passed away.  He worked for the government so it was silver that made him well off.  If you asked Harry for financial advice he’d tell you to buy silver.  When I shook his hand good-bye I had a twinge that I would not see him again.  Forty years of our life had gone by and it seemed that it was not that long ago.

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