Shire Silver is both a model for creating cards with precious metals embedded in them as well as being the brand of a producer of such cards.
The Shire Silver model
After trying for a couple years to figure out a way to cheaply produce bullion in a manner that it could be widely distributed, Ron Helwig realized that it wouldn't work using traditional bullion. So in 2009 and 2010, he designed and tested a process of laminating small amounts of silver and gold into credit card size cards. These became the first Shire Silver cards.
The method of creating these cards was immediately placed into the public domain so that anyone can make their own versions.
There are many advantages to the laminated card model, among which are:
- the metal is protected from the elements and handling
- tiny amounts of metal, so small that they would be difficult to manipulate, can be easily used
- any attempt to tamper will be readily evident
- they fit into all standard wallets so are easy to carry
- they can be easily created with different designs
- capital requirements to set up a "mint" are very low
- the values are small enough that occasional destructive testing for verification of weight and purity is acceptable
The Shire Silver brand
Ron Helwig produces Shire Silver model cards under the Shire Silver brand.
He can also make co-branded cards that have someone else's branding on the front, with the Shire Silver branding on the back.
Shire Silver cards can come in many denominations, typically encompassing values that make sense for everyday trade.
These are the ones made by Shire Silver, and they are all .999 fine.
- Half Gram Silver and Daniq (co-brand)
- One Gram Silver
- Dirham (co-brand)
- Five Gram Silver
- Twentieth Gram Gold
- Tenth Gram Gold
- Tenth Dinar (co-brand)
- Half Gram Gold
Non-pure metals can be used, such as 22K gold, if the manufacturer desires.
- Destructive testing is the only guaranteed method of determining weight and purity of bullion. Other tests can only give a degree of confidence.