Is It Still Possible to Buy Gold and Platinum on the Cheap from the U.S. Government?

Is It Still Possible to Buy Gold and Platinum on the Cheap from the U.S. Government?

In the days following World War II, army surplus yards opened in many parts of the country, selling all kinds of items that had been manufactured for the U.S. war effort. All sorts of items showed up – hats, coats, uniforms, tarpaulins, tents, and even some decommissioned “souvenir” hand grenades. There were even opportunities to buy electronic devices like field radios that contained small amounts of gold.

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These Precious Metals Items Are Worth More than They Look

These Precious Metals Items Are Worth More than They Look

A few years ago, a man looked down at the bottom of a stream in northern California and saw something shiny poking out from the sand and gravel that surrounded it. He pulled it out and it was a gold nugget. It was absolutely beautiful!

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Why the Smartest Places to Hide Gold, Silver and Platinum Might Not Be So Smart at All

Why the Smartest Places to Hide Gold, Silver and Platinum Might Not Be So Smart at All

Have you ever shopped online for miniature safes and other “safe spots” where you can hide gold, silver, platinum and other small valuables in your home?

If you have, you know that the variety of products you will discover is nothing short of amazing. When we did some online shopping recently, here are some of the products we discovered . . .

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Thinking Inside the Box: Investing in Boxes that Contain Precious Metal

Thinking Inside the Box: Investing in Boxes that Contain Precious Metal

We have previously written on this blog about all kinds of collectibles that can contain gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals. We’ve explored canes and walking sticks, barware, smoker’s accessories, buttons and medals, and lots more. Today, we’d like to direct your attention to another investment that should be on your radar... Boxes that contain precious metals.

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Looking for Gold and Silver in Collectible Knives

Looking for Gold and Silver in Collectible Knives

People are collecting folding pocket knives, hunting knives, highly stylized custom knives crafted by skilled artisans, ancient knives, and knives that fall into other niches. The question is, do any of them contain silver or gold? The short answer is yes, they do and if you take a close look at an unusual knife, it could contain small decorations and “extras” that are made of silver or even gold or platinum. 

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New Apple Robot Shows Us How to Recycle Old iPhones

New Apple Robot Shows Us How to Recycle Old iPhones

Here’s a video that shows how a new robot that Apple designed can pull apart an iPhone and separate out its parts. For reasons we do not know, Apple named this robot Liam. According to Apple, just one Liam robot can recycle 1.2 million iPhones a year.

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How to Tell the Difference Between Silver, White Gold and Platinum

How to Tell the Difference Between Silver, White Gold and Platinum

If you go shopping at antique malls or estate sales, you will discover a number of items for sale that are made of gray metal. How can you tell if they are made of silver, white gold or platinum?

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What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

Chances are that you only find small quantities of the valuable secondary platinum group metals (palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium) hiding in recyclable items that you think are made only of platinum. How can you tell if these rarer metals are present?

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A Brief History of Platinum

A Brief History of Platinum

Because platinum wasn’t used widely in jewelry or industry until about 100 years ago, it seems like a “new” precious metal. That’s not really true.  In about 700 B.C., Egyptian artisans were using it to make ornamental objects, like the famous and mysterious Casket of Thebes.  And at the same time, pre-Columbian artisans in South America were fashioning it into small trinkets. Those are only a few fascinating facts about this beautiful, tarnish-resistant, and durable precious metal. Here’s a quick timeline of its fascinating history.

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Platinum, Miracle Metal, Finds New Medical Applications

With every year that passes, platinum is finding more and more medical applications. Let’s explore them in today’s post.

Interventional Devices

Because platinum is biocompatible – not rejected by the human body – it is a metal of choice for cardiac and other stents that are left permanently in the body. It is also widely used in implantable defibrillators, pacemakers, and neuromonitoring devices used to control Parkinson’s and other disorders. As America’s population ages, the demand for those devices is increasing.

Physicians insert a platinum EP catheter into a blood vessel that leads to the patient’s heart. Used EP catheters can be recycled profitably for your organization by Specialty Metals.

Physicians insert a platinum EP catheter into a blood vessel that leads to the patient’s heart. Used EP catheters can be recycled profitably for your organization by Specialty Metals.

Orthopedic Devices

Because of its biocompatibility and ability to be formed into a variety of shapes that range from plates to wires to large components, platinum and platinum alloys are metals of choice for implantable devices that include hip and knee implants, plates and screws that are used to stabilize broken bones, and devices that are used to stabilize or support the spine.

Surgical and Testing Applications

Platinum is an excellent conductor of electricity too, making it a first choice for equipment that is used to test cardiac functions. Platinum is also used in wires and catheters that are used to monitor arthroscopic, ophthalmic, and other surgical procedures.

Cancer Medicines

And here’s a surprise. Over the last 50 years, a number of platinum-based medicines have been developed to fight ovarian, testicular and other cancers. One such medicine, Cisplatin, has been in use since 1977. Another cancer drug, Satraplatin, is being evaluated for treatment of prostate cancer. These medications work because platinum inhibits cell division, so cancerous cells can be stopped from reproducing as aggressively.

Demand for Platinum to Remain High

The strong demand for platinum in healthcare applications, coupled with its relative rarity in nature, means that the demand for your recyclable platinum will stay strong. If you would like to know more about using our refining services to unlock the dollar value that is hidden in platinum recyclables, call us at 800-426-2344.

Related Posts:

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Why It Pays to Recycle Electrophysiology (EP) Catheters
Recycling and Refining: The Profitable Way to Dispose of Used Laboratory Equipment
Snip the Tips to Make Surprising Money from Recyclables
Why Smart Veterinarians are Recycling the Platinum from their Testing Supplies

What We Found While Hunting for Precious Metals on eBay

What will you find if you go to eBay and search for “gold,” “platinum,” “silver,” and other precious metals? It’s an interesting and potentially valuable experiment that can lead you to discover sources of precious metals that weren’t on your radar.

Here are some of the surprising items that we found . . .

Some results of our eBay Search for Gold . . .

Shown: an assortment of antique gold, silver and platinum items that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • Covers for Kleenex boxes
  • Compacts and lipstick cases
  • Religious medals, crucifixes and mezuzahs
  • Fountain pens and mechanical pencils
  • Commemorative watches of many kinds
  • Rings, earrings, pendants, pins, and charms for charm bracelets
  • Pins from service clubs such as the Masons and the Kiwanis
  • Blazer buttons
  • Zippo lighters
  • Commemorative medals and coins
  • A gold-plated set of bar tools
  • A gold-covered wooden Buddha
  • A set of gold-filled demitasse coffee spoons
Shown: an assortment of silver and gold buttons items that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.

Some results of our eBay Search for Silver . . .

  • Silver-plated punch bowls, plates, and tableware
  • Silver bullion bars that celebrate and commemorate events
  • A set of silver casino tokens
  • Silver buttons
  • Religious coins and medals
  • Lighter and lipstick cases
  • World War II military collectables
  • A set of silver lids for Mason Jars

Some results of our eBay Search for Platinum . . .

Photo of antique fountain pens containing platinum gold and silver that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • Ballpoint and fountain pens
  • A set of antique fountain pen nibs
  • A vintage platinum box for carrying condoms
  • Commemorative buttons and pins for Harley-Davidson motorcycles and other products
  • An old platinum pin given to member of The Order of Lenin (USSR)
  • Old platinum-edged razor blades
  • A platinum cigarette holder

A Worthwhile Exercise

The virtual “field trip” that we took to eBay to search for precious metals turned out to be worthwhile. We had never stopped to think that old fountain pen nibs could be made of platinum, for example, or that covers for Zippo lighters were made from gold and silver. And what about gold-plated covers for Kleenex boxes?

Interesting, right? And possibly valuable too.  If you own an antique store or are cleaning out a house, doing your own search on eBay could help you discoverer items that could be more valuable than they appear.

Related Posts:

How to Get Top Dollar for Silverware and Gold Jewelry
Finding Value in Cutlery from the Golden Age of Silver Electroplating
Do You Own Silver-Plated or Pure Silver Items? This Online Encyclopedia Helps You Identify them Fast
What Is Karat Gold and How Can You Find Out What Yours Is Worth?
Why Big Dollars Could Be Hiding in Small Quantities of Silver Tableware

 

3 Things You Probably Never Knew about Platinum Sponges

If you use platinum sponges in your manufacturing operations, you already know a lot about them. You know where to buy them, what they cost, and maybe even how to install them in your production machinery. But here’s something you might not know:

Your used platinum sponges can be worth quite a lot.

Here are three of the reasons why . . .

Shown: Platinum sponges like these contain a high percentage of pure platinum which Specialty Metals can profitably recycle for your company. Image Courtesy of ChemicalReagent.com

Shown: Platinum sponges like these contain a high percentage of pure platinum which Specialty Metals can profitably recycle for your company. Image Courtesy of ChemicalReagent.com

  1. Platinum sponges are made of platinum that is almost 100% pure. It’s interesting – to make platinum sponge, a chemical agent is added to molten platinum. That agent foams and makes the platinum assume a sponge-like, porous form as it cools. When that agent is removed, the sponge that remains is nearly pure platinum – in most cases, 99% pure or even more.
  2. Even the smallest residues of spent platinum sponges can contain more pure platinum that you’d expect. Even if you have used scraps and splinters that appear worthless, they could still be worth a lot of money, because they still contain platinum that is extremely pure.
  3. You can receive an unusually large and rapid payback from platinum sponges that you recycle. The reason? Again, it’s the purity. Most other materials that we refine – such as ores, alloys, plating scrap, sludge and other materials - are difficult and costly to process because they are so impure. In comparison, platinum sponge is generally easier and faster to process.

Don’t Let Pure Platinum Slip Away

If your operations produce even small quantities of spent platinum sponge, call us at 800-426-2344. We’re America’s best, most qualified platinum refiners - here to make sure you’re not letting valuable quantities of platinum slip away.

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New Applications for Precious Metals Keep Demand and Prices High
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Bright Shiny Platinum Could Be Hiding in Your Dented and Dirty Old Labware

Prospector Finds Huge Ancient Sputtering Target Buried in the Mohave Desert

Wheeler McClintock, a solitary 78-year-old prospector, noticed something funny while he was riding his Burro Molly across the Mohave Desert in central California last October.

This prospector in this photo may not have struck it rich, but you can turn your used platinum sputtering targets into gold at Specialty Metals.

This prospector in this photo may not have struck it rich, but you can turn your used platinum sputtering targets into gold at Specialty Metals.

“It was just weird,” McClintock told us in a recent call. “I looked down at Molly and thought I saw that all the brass rivets on her collar were shining brighter than usual. I jumped off to get a closer look and was pretty doggone sure that they were coated with platinum. Didn’t they used to be brass? Then I pulled out my tin cup and canteen to wet my parched whistle and golly day, they were coated with platinum too. Same with my glasses, my pickaxe and spade, my beer can opener, my earring and even the fillings in my teeth. I thought I was going crazy or about meet my maker in the great beyond.”

McClintock rushed to the county Assay Office to stake his claim. “They wouldn’t let me, even if I used one of the `Other’ forms that they use for UFO stuff,” McClintock recalls. “They wanted more info.”

Under the cover of a dark moonless night, McClintock rode Molly out into the desert again, armed with a $79 metal detector and a long metal spike. Returning to the site of his first plating, he stuck the spike into the ground, hit a metal object buried about a foot underground, then continued out in wider and wider circles while probing and testing at every stage. “I was trying to get the measurements of this thing, whatever it is,” he explained.

Finally, he had his answer. He had found a huge disk, about 100 yards in diameter, buried underground. “The Assay Office let me stake my claim, based on that information,” McClintock explains. “But since I had no idea what I had really found or what to do with it, I called the best precious metals refiners in the US, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344, to ask what I had on my hands. This real nice feller was happy to help me.”

“We’re not yet absolutely sure yet what Mr. McClintock has discovered,” states one of the precious metals recycling experts from Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. “Whatever it is, it is functioning as a huge platinum sputtering target, probably because of radioactive uranium deposits underneath. That’s why any metal objects that pass over it get quickly plated with platinum.”

Where did this thing come from? It could have been created millions of years ago by a meteorite hitting the earth. Or maybe even it was left behind, or created, by a UFO when it landed. We’ll get to the bottom of it. How much is Mr. McClintock’s find worth? Nothing, sad to say, because there is really no Mr. McClintock and this story is all made up.

But weird things happen on April Fool’s Day, right? Best wishes for recycling success from all of us at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

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Bright Shiny Platinum Could Be Hiding in Your Dented and Dirty Old Labware

Maybe you just bought a building or a company where a testing lab was located. Or maybe you work at a university and need to dispose of labware that is no longer used in your science and engineering programs.

Photo of platinum crucible scrap containing platinum alloy, which Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners can recycle for your company.

Before you order a dumpster and toss it all, give us a call. Those old crucibles, tongs and other mismatched stuff might look like they’re made of stainless steel or even aluminum, but chances are that they are made of platinum, which is currently trading at over $1,400.00/troy ounce.

Here are some items that you should be on the lookout for.

  • Crucibles, dishes and lids
  • Evaporation dishes
  • The long testing containers known as “boats”
  • Testing electrodes including Fischer, Winkler, Wölbing and Schöniger electrodes*
  • Ignition dishes, in which materials to be tested are ignited
  • Tubes that connect testing tanks
  • Wire wool, perforated disks, meshes, and filters
  • Tongs, tweezers, and spatulas used to handle materials that are being tested

* The mesh in these electrodes contains platinum

Not Sure What Precious Metals You Have that Can Be Recycled?

It’s easy to overlook the potential value that could be hiding in some of the items described above – who would think that a jumble of dirty old metal mesh contains platinum and rhodium and could be worth hundreds of dollars? If you would like to learn how much your used laboratory gear could be worth, give us a call at 800-426-2344.

Related Posts:

Recycling and Refining: The Profitable Way to Dispose of Used Laboratory Equipment
New Medical Technologies Spur a Boom in Platinum Use
Demand for Precious Metals Increases with Widespread Healthcare Changes
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Smarter Recycling: Don’t Overlook the High Value of Noble Metal Thermocouples

If you own used industrial equipment that was used in high-temperature settings, it is almost certain that you are in possession of a quantity of used noble metal thermocouples. What are they, and how much are they worth?

Photo showing the kind of gas appliance that uses a thermocouple wire that contains valuable precious metals that can be recycled and refined.

Here’s what you need to know.

First, What Is a Thermocouple?

Let’s start with the basics. Here’s the explanation that we recently ran in a post on this blog Interested in Thermocouples and Thermocouple Wire? Why Not Read Up Online?:

“A thermocouple is made from two wires that are made from different kinds of metals. They are connected at one end – the `junction.’ When that connection is made, voltage is generated; that voltage can be measured by equipment that is located at the other ends of the two wires. And here’s where things get interesting, because when temperatures change at the junction, the amount of voltage that’s generated changes too.”

What Are Noble Metal Thermocouples and Do They Contain Platinum?

Noble metal thermocouples are so called because they contain quantities of platinum and rhodium. They are usually classified by their manufacturers as Type B, R, or S thermocouples. They are used to measure or monitor temperatures in a high range between about 1800ᵒ Fahrenheit (982ᵒ Centigrade) through about 4200ᵒ Fahrenheit (2300ᵒ Centigrade). 

Base metal thermocouples are more common, and less valuable. They typically contain nickel alloys. They are classified by their manufacturers as Type E, J, K, N or T thermocouples. You are most likely to find them in equipment that is used to measure or monitor temperatures below about 1800ᵒ Fahrenheit (982ᵒ Centigrade).

How Can You Tell What Kind of Thermocouples You Have?

As I noted at the beginning of today’s post, noble metal thermocouples are found where temperatures run high – in the range of 1800ᵒ to 4200ᵒ Fahrenheit. Those settings can include production lines, testing laboratories, firing kilns – anywhere high temperatures need to be measured or monitored. One example? Robotic arc welding equipment that must shut down if temperatures start to run too high.

In some cases, you can learn whether you have precious metal thermocouples by reading the documentation that accompanies the equipment. (Don’t have the specs? Don’t forget that you can often learn them by looking at a manufacturer’s product brochures or specifications online.) In some cases, thermocouple specifications are stamped onto small plaques that the manufacturer attached to the equipment. And in some cases, the thermocouple’s classification (Type B, R, or S, for example) will be stamped somewhere on the thermocouple itself, or on gauges or valves that are attached to it.

How Much Are Your Recyclable Platinum and Rhodium Thermocouples Worth?

Precious metals like rhodium and platinum can be recycled by the best platinum refiners very profitably – platinum for more than $1,400 per troy ounce, and rhodium for more than $1,000. If you call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344, we will be happy to discuss the potential value of your used, recyclable thermocouples.

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