In Jim Cook's Archive


In 1977, my company had secured the endorsement of Howard Ruff, whose newsletter The Ruff Times eventually grew to 150,000 subscribers. He also wrote a #1 best-selling book, How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years. Howard fervently endorsed the ownership of gold and silver. Many of his readers and followers were our customers. By 1979, gold and silver were moving up dramatically and we were doing a land-office business.

In the late 1970s, when inflation was roaring, Howard Ruff was considered a financial guru and his income was large. When people make a lot of money for the first time, it often makes them prideful and that’s when they make mistakes. In the fall of 1979, gold had climbed to $400 an ounce and silver was $15. Many of Howard’s subscribers had investments in gold and silver and because they had profits, they listened carefully to his advice. One day, in September, Howard called me and said he thought gold and silver were too high. He told me he was going to issue a recommendation to his readers to sell. He actually thought his call to sell would break the back of the gold and silver market and drag down the price. I listened, but I didn’t think too much about it. I was going to Saskatchewan for 10 days to hunt ducks and geese and that was foremost on my mind.

I would call my office from Canada each day and early on I got the word that Howard had issued his “get out of the water” call. Two days later, my office told me that silver was flooding into our company. People were bringing it in, and many had told us they were mailing their silver to our office. We occupied a part of the 15th floor of a suburban office building called 1 Appletree Square. Within days, a large and very heavy quantity of silver was piled into our conference room and shipping area. One of my managers called me and said the weight was so great, it might go through the floor and if it did, it would go all the way to the basement. Yikes! I was skeptical, but I panicked, nevertheless. Within hours, my office manager secured an area in the basement of our building, and we transferred the silver. It turned out that silver and gold kept going up and Howard’s call to sell was premature. We paid everybody for their silver and were happy to have done the business and even happier not to have destroyed our building.

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