Rebirth of Reason

War for Men's Minds

Precious Metals Dealers Embargo Minnesota
by Michael E. Marotta

Effective July 1, 2014, in order to sell to buyers in Minnesota professional sellers of any coin with more than 1% content of silver, gold, platinum, or palladium, must register with the State of Minnesota, paying a surety bond of at least 10% of their gross sales.  In response, numismatists are embargoing Minnesota. Some refuse to sell even face-to-face outside of Minnesota, with anyone from Minnesota.


The law is 

CHAPTER 120--H.F.No. 157

An act relating to commerce; regulating bullion coin dealers; requiring registration; prohibiting certain conduct; providing enforcement authority and civil and criminal penalties; proposing coding for new law as Minnesota Statutes, chapter 80G.


You can find the exact wording here as a PDF:


(Here is the plain text



Among those embargoing Minnesota is Millers Mint of Marville, Tennessee:

Minnesota Residents Beware

Your state statute 2013 80G which became effective July 1st 2014 is prohibitively cumbersome.
Therefore we will no longer accept any retail orders from Minnesota residents for any items containing gold , silver, platinum or palladium.
We are sorry but the costs of complying with this regulation far outweigh any benefits. 

Miller's Mint Inc.

200 East Broadway Ave Suite 315

Maryville, TN 37804

Another is Liberty Coin Service of Lansing, Michigan.

"For now, Liberty Coin Service, like most non-Minnesota coin dealers, will no longer buy or sell to Minnesota customers, even if they physically come to our store in Michigan."


This embargo is being led by the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA).   According to a recent survey of their member dealers, over 85% (54/62) will not comply with the law and will not do business in Minnnesota.


It is a significant feature of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism that reality and reason are wholly integrated. As an objective (rational-empirical) philosophy in the Enlightenment tradition of the scientific method, no fact of reality can contradict another fact of reality.  That broad perspective allows us to understand that this law is at once immoral and impractical. 


The moral issue is clear: aside from common law protections against fraud and coercion, no government has any mandate to specially regulate any individual or group of persons.  What "bullion coin dealers" do or not is their own business and that of any customer.  The state has no moral grounds for interfering in trade and commerce.


The practical problems should slap you in the face.  Even after industrialization, the gold coins of the United States were at least 90% pure gold alloyed with copper, but the actual silver content - naturally alloyed within the copper and gold - varied.  In our time, we do not care. No one buys a $20 Liberty gold coin for the silver content.  But now it is a matter of law.  Similarly, it is a fact that the UK gold sovereigns of 1887 contain1.25% silver.  Again, no actual buyers or sellers care, but now it is a matter of law if you fail to mention it.


Sir Isaac Newton famously assayed the gold bars of the British Royal Mint and found them lacking in both precision and accuracy.  Yet, the coinage continued, as it had to.  For older coins from the Middle Ages, Roman Empire, and ancient Greek times, the only way to know the metal content of a coin is to melt it.... which makes selling as a coin somewhat difficult. We just assume that given some history and some historical writings and some studies by numismatists, that we sort of know that the silver denarii of Augustus Caesar are 100% silver, but those of Caligula were not; those of Marcus Aurelius were mostly about some 10/12 pure or less or more, depending on the fortunes of empire and corruption at the mint.  


I personally paid the American Numismatic Association for a special assay on an ancient Greek coin from the town of Sinope c. 400 BCE struck with a Delta-Iota-Omicron for DIOgenes under the wing of the eagle.  Diogenes the Cynic was run out of the town for "some" irregulator in the coinage during his tenure as mint master. He came to Athens to be a philosopher.  But what is the actual metal content of his coinage?  (This one was 90%, not the nominal 100% of an ancient Greek coin.)  Aside from a historian of philosophy, like me, who cares?  No one buys ancient coins for their bullion... but the government of Minnesota cares...


Like all bad laws, this one achieves the exact opposite of its stated intention. Rather than making Minnesota "safe for bullion" they are preventing all coin sales to anyone from Minnesota.

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