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1995 took me back to South Florida where a coin dealer friend introduced me to Henry Weissblatt of Panther Precious Metals in Boca Raton, FL. Henry’s background was on the Commodities Exchange. He was also the former president of Mocatta Corp., a division of Mocatta Metals. In the mid 1970s Mocatta was the largest U.S. dealer in gold and silver bullion. Mr Weissblatt’s start up firm “Panther” or “PPM” was making a name for itself as being one of the country’s strongest market makers in 90% silver coin bags.
I could have never guessed I’d be working for someone else (let alone a bullion trading firm) but it wound up being a great fit for all parties involved. Originally I was dealing in all types of collectible currency issues. I was buying and selling banknotes for the company’s account and we were making money. Then one day something extraordinary happened; one of the company partners was at a local bank branch when the bank teller showed him several $1000 Federal Reserve Notes that a bank customer had recently deposited. The teller wondered if the partner would pay him a premium over face value for the notes. The partner did pay the teller a significant premium. The purchase of these notes was really the beginning of something very new and special. The “commoditization” of collectible $500 and $1000 Federal Reserve Notes.
Making a market in $500’s and $1000’s was an absolute new concept in the mid 1990s. No one had even considered the idea of making buy / sell spreads for various grades of $500 and $1000 Federal Reserve Notes, but that’s exactly what we did. We would buy VERY FINE 500s for example for $700 and sell them for $775. If we were “short” a specific grade we would increase our bid. If we had an abundance of another grade we would reduce our offer. Before you knew it we had posted bids/offers on a variety of dealer teletype systems and dealer publications. I would buy and sell the notes, and the partners financed the deals. Back then we were doing fulfillment of 500’s and 1000’s for a broad base of consumers. On the wholesale level alone we were selling to telemarketers, punch board promoters, car sales incentive programs, casino promotions, bingo halls and the list went on and on. By the end of every month we’d sell 100 of these notes. We would do that month in month out. After 9 years at Panther Precious Metals (1995-2004) I figure we bought and sold at least ten thousand $500 and $1000 Federal Reserve Notes.