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-   -   Where can I buy a gold brick and how much will cost me? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=301563)

 aaslatten 02-09-2005 02:38 PM

Where can I buy a gold brick and how much will cost me?

I'm just curious about how easy or difficult it is to buy a gold brick in the United States. I realize the price will fluctuate with market, so I'm just looking for an approximate price at this time.

 Cisco 02-09-2005 03:17 PM

I read once that a brick of gold weighs 26lbs. I was shocked that something that small would be so heavy, but if true, you could calculate the cost by using the current value of a troy ounce of gold. Isn't it usually printed in newspapers next to stock prices?

 aaslatten 02-09-2005 03:40 PM

The current pure gold per-ounce price that I found is around USD \$431. So that means a brick ... ? Are they really worth that much?

 aeropl 02-09-2005 04:10 PM

This site says the most common size bar used for intl. transactions is 400 troy ounces. That is a pretty small volume of gold, as it would make a brick of about 6" x 3" x 2". That brick would be worth \$172,400 at \$431 per troy ounce. I had always imaged gold bars a lot bigger than that.

A cube of gold only 1" per side would be just over 10 troy ounces and be worth about \$4,387! Also, a million dollars worth of gold would weigh 159 lbs. and make a bar 12"x6"x3" (approx).

 yoyodyne 02-09-2005 04:24 PM

I keep a kilogram of tungsten on my desk. It is practically the same density as gold and is about the size of a D-cell battery. I had one visitor pick it up and he swore it had to be a magnet that was attracted to the (non-metal) desk because it was so hard to lift for its size. The fact that it remained heavy when held in his hand away from the desk didn't seem to register with him. Not a physics major :)

A one thousand ounce bar of gold weighs about 68 lbs, and is about ten inches long, and a bit more than three by three inches in cross section, and will cost you in the general neighborhood of a third to a half of a million dollars. That gets you "Delivered" bullion. Delivered means on deposit at a banking institution that guarantees to hold it for a price, and allows you to sell it again without an assay. Bring your pickup truck to the back door of the bank, and you can lug that sucker on home, but call up in advance, and let them know about your plans, since they won't be expecting you. They will want money for that service.

Now you have a brick that you will have to have assayed, if you try to sell it on the gold market, so you have to lug it back to the bank, and they will want another fee to take it back and have it verified. Then you can pay storage agreements fees like everyone else, until you sell the thing.

Most folks just hold the paper, and let the actual block of gold sit in one place, changing owners as the whim drives human markets.

Tris
-------------------------------
Rule of Reason: "If nobody uses it, there's a reason."

 Hampshire 02-09-2005 04:31 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by yoyodyne I keep a kilogram of tungsten on my desk. It is practically the same density as gold and is about the size of a D-cell battery. I had one visitor pick it up and he swore it had to be a magnet that was attracted to the (non-metal) desk because it was so hard to lift for its size. The fact that it remained heavy when held in his hand away from the desk didn't seem to register with him. Not a physics major :)
Hey! That sounds cool.

Where can I get a kilogram of tungsten for my desk?

 yoyodyne 02-09-2005 04:55 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Hampshire Hey! That sounds cool. Where can I get a kilogram of tungsten for my desk?
I got it from these folks eBay store. It looks like they don't have any at the moment.

I'd love to get one of these, but I'm afraid to ask the cost!

 DrDeth 02-09-2005 05:42 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Triskadecamus A one thousand ounce bar of gold weighs about 68 lbs, and is about ten inches long, and a bit more than three by three inches in cross section, and will cost you in the general neighborhood of a third to a half of a million dollars.
It is almost impossible to pick it up, also. My Dad worked in an Alaskan gold smelting operation prior to WWII, and the boss bet Dad that Dad could pick one of them up without a tool- the boss (likely in jest ) said that if dad could, he could keep it. Dad was very strong for his size, and claimed he almost got it off the ground (note- it was flat on the ground), scaring the crap out of the foreman. Of course, Gold wasn't anywhere near as valuable then, but still that was a huge sum, and like dad said, he was pretty sure the boss was just kidding- but the bragging rights would have been huge.

I have to admit I somewhat doubted Dad's tale, as hell, any guy in decent shape can "clean & jerk" 68 pounds right? Well, the problem is- you can't get your fingers underneath the bar. I found that out because in HS, I worked in a Shipping dept, and we had a full sized anvil to ship. I was pretty damn strong, and could bench well over 200#, but that 55# (or was it 75#?) anvil was impossible to pick up off the floor by putting your fingers under it.

I have handled the smaller gold bars while working as a guard- they are suprisingly heavy. Once you got one up, you could carry it in one hand- I guess they weighed about 25#, so Cisco is probably right. And yoyodyne's story I beleive, too.

 Hail Ants 02-09-2005 09:10 PM

Quote:
 I'd love to get one of these, but I'm afraid to ask the cost!
I wonder if they make a Plutonium version...

 commasense 02-09-2005 09:31 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Hail Ants I wonder if they make a Plutonium version...
They used to, but they tried to make a big one, and the plant vaporized.

 DesertDog 02-09-2005 10:31 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Triskadecamus Most folks just hold the paper, and let the actual block of gold sit in one place, changing owners as the whim drives human markets.
Over thirty years ago I read an article about the world's largest gold repository -- not Ft. Knox, but the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The vault there held not just U.S. gold but bullion of many countries. If China bought six million dollars worth of wheat from Canada, an order would come down and the workers would go to China's niche, stack the requisite number of bars onto a hand truck, trundle it over to Canada's niche, and unload them there. The vault's floor was oak and would need to be replaced every five years or so (those trucks were heavy). The old floor would be ripped up and burrned; enough gold would be recovered to pay for the replacement.

DD

 Northern Piper 02-09-2005 10:48 PM

If you go to the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, they have a gold ingot on display that you can pick up. It's chained to the floor and there's a Royal Canadian Mint police officer present at all times, but you can handle it.

It weighs 400 troy ounces and is 99.99 % pure, the highest purity standard in the world. The Royal Canadian Mint was the first mint in the world to offer this standard of purity. According to the Google calculator, 1 troy ounce = 31.1034768 grams, so 400 troy oz. would be 12,441.39072 grams, or 12.441 kg, which is roughly 27.37 lbs avoirdupois. So, not as heavy as a curling stone.

The Royal Canadian Mint website says that the ingot is worth "more than \$200,000". When I toured the Mint last fall, the Mint cop told me that it was close to \$220,000 at the time. (Canadian \$, naturally).

He also commented on the same thing that DrDeth mentions: if the ingot is made like an ordinary brick, with 90° corners, it's very difficult to pick up. That's why the top of the ingot is narrower than the bottom, with the sides sloping in - makes it easier to get a grip.

(I don't know the term for that kind of a shape: any geometrists around who can help?)

 Cunctator 02-10-2005 12:04 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Northern Piper (I don't know the term for that kind of a shape: any geometrists around who can help?)
The 3-D version of an isosceles trapezium? I don't know whether it has a name.

 matt 02-10-2005 02:20 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Northern Piper He also commented on the same thing that [B DrDeth[/B] mentions: if the ingot is made like an ordinary brick, with 90° corners, it's very difficult to pick up. That's why the top of the ingot is narrower than the bottom, with the sides sloping in - makes it easier to get a grip. (I don't know the term for that kind of a shape: any geometrists around who can help?)
An isosceles trapezoidal prism would be close. Or if the ends slant in as well, a truncated rectangular-based pyramid.

 DougC 02-10-2005 02:47 AM

- - - If all four lateral sides slope, then it could be considered a frustrum --a pyramid (of any number of lateral sides) with its top "cut off".
......
Quote:
 That gets you "Delivered" bullion. Delivered means on deposit at a banking institution that guarantees to hold it for a price, and allows you to sell it again without an assay. Bring your pickup truck to the back door of the bank, and you can lug that sucker on home, but call up in advance, and let them know about your plans, since they won't be expecting you. They will want money for that service....
- So let me get this straight: you order a bar of gold, there's a transportation charge, that I understand. And if you want them to store it for you, there's a storage charge, that too I can see. But if you don't want them to store it, you have to pay more money to get it from them? What a crock of sh!t.
~

Quote:
 Originally Posted by yoyodyne I got it from these folks eBay store. It looks like they don't have any at the moment. I'd love to get one of these, but I'm afraid to ask the cost!
Talk about a truly awesome bowling ball...

 HeyHomie 02-10-2005 09:30 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by aeropl This site says the most common size bar used for intl. transactions is 400 troy ounces. That is a pretty small volume of gold, as it would make a brick of about 6" x 3" x 2". That brick would be worth \$172,400 at \$431 per troy ounce.
Here's a way to make a million dollars.
• Buy one of those bricks.
• Swallow it.
• Have someone videotape you defecating it out.
• Put the video on the internet.
• Charge \$.99 per download to watch someone literally shitting a gold brick.

The plan is flawless, I tell you. ;)

 plnnr 02-10-2005 09:54 AM

In the 1930s, the then-Aga Khan celebrated the anniversary of his ascendency to the position and was presented with his weight in gold as a gift from his followers. Several years later they repeated the gesture, but this time they used diamonds.

As I pointed out in another thread - I want that job.

 Whack-a-Mole 02-10-2005 11:07 AM

The OP was on about getting obtaining a gold brick but I think in the United States that is illegal.

Certainly some gold may be owned by individuals today (jewelry, coins, etc.) but full blown gold ingots I am not so sure.

I know FDR issued an executive order to confiscate gold from Americans back in the Depression. The people gold was taken from got paper money for it but price of gold was then raised effectively devaluing the dollar thus robbing the people who had owned gold of money.

I thought this was repealed back int he 70's but I am unsure if it was repealed in its entirety or just modified. Anyone know?

That said you can certainly buy and sell gold on the markets but as someone else mentioned you never actually get the gold in hand...it is all a paper transaction. I'm pretty sure you can't toddle down to Ft. Knox and demand the gold bar you bought.

 aeropl 02-10-2005 12:20 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole The OP was on about getting obtaining a gold brick but I think in the United States that is illegal.
Nope, it's perfectly legal to possess gold bars today, although it was illegal from 1933 to 1975. The scary part is that the government can confiscate gold again anytime during a state of emergency because of the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by DesertDog Over thirty years ago I read an article about the world's largest gold repository -- not Ft. Knox, but the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. [snip] The vault's floor was oak and would need to be replaced every five years or so (those trucks were heavy). The old floor would be ripped up and burrned; enough gold would be recovered to pay for the replacement. DD
I was there a couple of years ago, neat place. My memory is not 100%, but I'm almost positive that the floor of the vault was cut directly into the bedrock of Manhattan. This was both for practical reasons (as you said those trucks were heavy) and for security reasons.

 FlippyFly 02-10-2005 01:00 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by DougC - So let me get this straight: you order a bar of gold, there's a transportation charge, that I understand. And if you want them to store it for you, there's a storage charge, that too I can see. But if you don't want them to store it, you have to pay more money to get it from them? What a crock of sh!t. ~
Hey it's not rare. Picture this: you buy some stock on E*Trade for a comission (delivery charge). E*Trade will then charge you if you don't make any active trades (like a storage charge) and they will charge you if you want to get the stock certificate back (transfer fee).

 Spectre of Pithecanthropus 02-10-2005 06:00 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by yoyodyne I got it from these folks eBay store. It looks like they don't have any at the moment. I'd love to get one of these, but I'm afraid to ask the cost!
Wow, what fun things they seem to have there! Maybe you could get a kilo of beryllium, and a lab balance, and put the large, low-sp. gr. Be on one side and the small, high sp.-gr. tungsten on the other. That'd be an interesting display.

 MaxTheVool 02-10-2005 06:13 PM

For my birthday party/trivia contest two years ago, one of the questions was "if you had a sphere of solid gold whose radius was the distance from the earth to the sun, and you calculated its value in dollars, and rounded it off to the nearest power of 10, how many zeroes would be on the end of that number?"

Sadly, I've now forgotten the number. But it was quite large.

 inkleberry 02-10-2005 06:34 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by aeropl Also, a million dollars worth of gold would weigh 159 lbs. and make a bar 12"x6"x3" (approx).

So that's what my weight in gold would be...Hmmm.... Yeah, I could live with that kind of cash...

 inkleberry 02-10-2005 06:35 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by MaxTheVool For my birthday party/trivia contest two years ago, one of the questions was "if you had a sphere of solid gold whose radius was the distance from the earth to the sun, and you calculated its value in dollars, and rounded it off to the nearest power of 10, how many zeroes would be on the end of that number?"
Questions like this are precisely why there should be drinking allowed and even encouraged at your parties.

 Bryan Ekers 02-10-2005 09:26 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by inkleberry Questions like this are precisely why there should be drinking allowed and even encouraged at your parties.
Does sound like one of your geekier parties, don't it?

But what the heck.

Astronomical unit: 149 598 000 000m = 1.49598 * 1011

Volume of a sphere: 4/3 pi r3

4/3 pi (1.49598 * 1011)3

= 1.4 * 1034

Density of gold = 19.3 g/cc = 193,000,000 g/m3 = 1.93 * 108 g/m3

Total mass of the sphere = 1.93 * 108 g/m3 * 1.4 * 1034 m3

= 2.7 * 1042 g

A recent price for gold is \$13.44 USD/g, so the sphere's value at that price is \$3.63 * 1043

As for how many zeroes come after the answer, that depends on how precise your math is. I've been rounding to beat the band and probably made a mistake along the way.

 alterego 02-10-2005 09:56 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by yoyodyne I got it from these folks eBay store. It looks like they don't have any at the moment. I'd love to get one of these, but I'm afraid to ask the cost!
Im no metallurgist, but when I was a teenager I worked in a pump shop for oil rigs. We had tungsten carbide balls just like that, and they were technically "perfectly round" and hollow. They were used on the end of pipe's somewhere within the oil pump to maintain suction, and we sent them back to be reforged into new "perfectly round" balls every once in a while. They ranged in size from marbles to half of a bowling ball, and I recall the cost being 20-100 dollars for each one. They were extremely strong and, in my memory, equally bouncy as a same-sized rubber ball (if not moreso, I think they went higher but wouldn't continue bouncing for as long).

One time our dog, Shasta, was making a jingling sound as she ran around. We took her to the vet and she had six of these in her stomach that she had eaten of the ground at the shop! ;)

Anyway, you can get one of these used for really cheap, if not free, by finding a local pump shop.

 alterego 02-10-2005 10:06 PM

please disregard my spelling, punctuation, and grammar. that's several glasses of wine talking :)

 inkleberry 02-10-2005 11:35 PM

Um, I've actually been to Max's parties. They are, in fact, very geeky. And sadly, nonalcoholic. Everything goes better with vodka, I say.

 Chronos 02-11-2005 12:44 AM

Quote:
 For my birthday party/trivia contest two years ago, one of the questions was "if you had a sphere of solid gold whose radius was the distance from the earth to the sun, and you calculated its value in dollars, and rounded it off to the nearest power of 10, how many zeroes would be on the end of that number?"
You realize that would be a black hole, right? The value of a black hole is largely independent of its size. The only advantage to having a larger one is that you get a higher Eddington limit, but one that large would easily be large enough to meet the power needs of any Type III civilization (much less a less-than-Type I like us). So I would estimate the value of that sphere as being equal to the sum of the values of all of the power plants in the world and all of the uranium and fossil fuel reserves (since those represent all of the power we can use).

 spinky 02-11-2005 05:13 AM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by yoyodyne I keep a kilogram of tungsten on my desk. It is practically the same density as gold and is about the size of a D-cell battery. I had one visitor pick it up and he swore it had to be a magnet that was attracted to the (non-metal) desk because it was so hard to lift for its size. The fact that it remained heavy when held in his hand away from the desk didn't seem to register with him. Not a physics major :)
Huh. I happen to keep a 623g wedge of Tungsten on my desk, and I get similar surprised reactions. You definitely wouldn't want to drop it on your foot. It's got some sharp corners.

Those tungsten spheres definitely look cool.

 Hoodoo Ulove 02-11-2005 09:36 AM

The best place to buy gold (just holding the paper) is said to be the Perth MInt. Least red tape, etc.

 alterego 02-11-2005 11:18 AM

Quote:
 The best place to buy gold (just holding the paper) is said to be the Perth MInt.
I dunno, it was pretty cheap and easy to get ahold of in Mina Sulman, Bahrain :)

 MaxTheVool 02-11-2005 08:31 PM

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chronos You realize that would be a black hole, right? The value of a black hole is largely independent of its size. The only advantage to having a larger one is that you get a higher Eddington limit, but one that large would easily be large enough to meet the power needs of any Type III civilization (much less a less-than-Type I like us). So I would estimate the value of that sphere as being equal to the sum of the values of all of the power plants in the world and all of the uranium and fossil fuel reserves (since those represent all of the power we can use).
If you had been at my party and given that answer, I would have awarded you partial or complete credit.

(By the way, the way the question worked was that 8 or so teams were asked it simultaneously, and the ones who got closest to the right answer were awarded points. No one was expected it to get it dead on, with no reference materials, in 30 seconds.)

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