Utah officially makes gold and silver legal tender

Gold and Silver bullion is offered for sale at the Chicago Coin Company May 11, 2006 in Chicago, Ill. Utah's governor signed into law this week that gold and silver coinage is legal tender in the state.

This final note on the way out. The governor of Utah signed a bill this week making gold and silver legal tender.

We were curious about exactly how that might work.  So we called Craig Franco, he runs the Utah Gold and Silver Depository. It's a bank -- kinda.

Craig Franco: Nice to be with you.

Ryssdal: Just to be clear, this law does not let me take a nugget of gold and plop it down on the counter and buy a pair of jeans and a candy bar?

Franco: That is correct. The law is very specific on the type of gold product that's been monetized. And what has been monetized is American gold and silver coinage.

Ryssdal: Printed by or minted by who? The United States Mint?

Franco: The United States federal government.

Ryssdal: So I can have some 1792 gold, double-eagle, walking liberty coin, whatever they call 'em -- because you guys do special stuff, right? -- and plop it down on the counter?

Franco: Theoretically, yes. Now practically, that's impossible to do. So what we've done at the Utah Gold and Silver Dispository is we have developed a debit card that allows for people to deposit their gold and silver like you would deposit cash in a bank. And we can issue a debit card against the value of your gold or silver holdings.

Ryssdal: I have to tell you, this takes literally all the charm out of it, man.

Gold in New York today? $1,643 an ounce.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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