Many survivalists advise stocking up on gold and silver, especially junk silver (pre-1964 U.S. coins), to use as currency after a collapse. While this isn’t the absolute worst idea in the world (that dubious honor belongs to the advice to use ammunition as currency), there are a few flaws with the plan.
After a collapse, people are going to be concerned with filling their bellies, first and foremost.
You can’t eat coins, jewelry, nor ingots. If you find yourself needing to barter with someone for something you need, odds are pretty good the best currency to have on hand is food of some sort. Packages of dry soup, canned fruit, or even just bouillon cubes will be much more valuable than a few silver nickels.
In fact, who’s to say precious metals will have any value at all? See, here’s the thing. In any transaction, the goods or services involved are only worth what the individuals are willing to pay. You could be the best leather worker in four counties but your belts aren’t going to be worth any more than what people have and are willing to part with for payment. You could have a roll of silver quarters but if the other person isn’t willing to accept them as payment for the item you want, not much you can do about it.
Further, aside from junk silver coins, how would you prove to anyone the jewelry or whatever is real? There’s a whole lot of crap rings and bracelets out there that can easily fool the average person. Knowing that, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone willing to take them in exchange for anything of value.
I think we can all agree that, after a major collapse, our current paper money and coins will be worthless. At some point down the road, as things once again stabilize, currency will come back. But in the interim, I think folks are going to be bartering hard goods as well as services to get what they need.