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Record High Silver Spot Price in 1980

There are lots of claims as to what the record price was in 1980 -- $41.50, $48.80, $49.45, $50, $50.50, etc.

Why is this? Because there is the London Fix, New York closing price, intraday high, spot/futures and other figures that people could use.


First: Silver High was 1980 (not 2011)

Some people like to state what they want, not what is true. In this case, there are people making claims that the price of silver was higher in 2011 than 1980. For example, the "Silver Doctors" claim that the April 28, 2011 COMEX intraday high of $49.50 was the all-time record (in 1980 it was $50.35). That just ain't so. They were close, however.

First, there is the inflation factor: everything from wages to the cost of houses, cars, gas, meat, and bread was about 2-3 times more in 2011. The inflation-adjusted 1980 high price of silver in 2011 would have been around $125ish. Even so, there was no high in 2011 that was higher than the same one in 1980:

High Description 1980 2011
COMEX open $49.90
(18 Jan 1980)
$48.46
(29 Apr 2011)
COMEX intraday $50.35
(18 Jan 1980)
$49.52
(28 Apr 2011)
COMEX close $48.70
(17 Jan 1980)
$48.584
(29 Apr 2011)
London Fix $49.45
(18 Jan 1980)
$48.70
(28 Apr 2011)

Highest London Fix

We believe the best price to use as the record high price of silver in 1980 is $49.45, which was the London Fix on January 18, 1980.

This represents a group of bullion banks with buyers and sellers discovering a mutually agreeable price, at a set point in time (avoiding adding 'high', 'low', and 'average' to the mix).

Highest New York Closing Price

In 1980, there was no "New York" closing price. Trading was done both at COMEX (in New York) and CBOT (in Chicago). As far as we can tell, the COMEX and CBOT closing prices were not actively followed. Trading at times was fairly light (especially after the liquidation only order), so the closing price would not necessarily be the most useful price to use.

The COMEX closing prices for January, 1980 silver appear to have been $48.80 $48.70 on January 17, 1980 and $46.80 on January 18, 1980. These are from Jerome Smith's "Silver Profits in the 80's" (p.20), and a few other sources. However, none state definitively that those were COMEX closing prices. 2019 UPDATE: The price quoted in Silver Profits in the 80's appears incorrect; I have verified a COMEX closing price of $48.70 in several more reliable sources.

Intraday

The intraday high refers to the highest price during the day. According to "Financial Crises: Understanding the Powerwar U.S. Experience" p.71, and "The Great Silver Bubble" p.144, the intraday price of silver on January 18 1980 reached $50.36 on COMEX and $52.50 on CBOT. The New York Times had an article in 1981 saying that "On Jan. 21, 1980, silver hit a record $50.35". But a year later, the New York Times wrote "On Jan. 21, 1980, silver reached a peak of $52.50 a troy ounce in trading on the Comex" (apparently mixing up the COMEX and CBOT intraday prices). Data I have obtained shows a $50.35 intraday high for COMEX.

Other Prices

COMEX rules prevented the silver price from moving up or down more than $1 a day (but did not apply to the current month). As a result, the price for March, 1980 silver hit a high of just $41.50 on January 21, 1980, according to Paul Sarnoff's "Silver Bulls" (p.82).

PriceDateDescription
$42.07January 21, 1980FAKE: Shown by Silver Doctors as COMEX silver high for 1980. WRONG. A typical 'stunt' to sell silver.
$49.50n/aFAKE: Seen in 'Money Metals Insider' Newsletter; likely just a "Hollywood Magic" rounding

High Price Chart, Low to High!

PriceDateDescription
$41.50January 21, 1980COMEX May, 1980 High
$48.70January 17, 1980COMEX Settlement Price
Appears in Wikipedia 'Silver Thursday'.
Also in The Great Silver Bubble as:
"The previous day the price had risen to $48.70 in New York."
$49.45January 18, 1980London Fix
$49.80January 18, 1980COMEX Opening Price
$50.35January 18, 1980Intraday COMEX High (official, rounded?)
$50.36January 18, 1980Intraday COMEX High (reported)
$50.50January 18, 1980Intraday CBOT (sometimes incorrectly referred to as London/LBMA)
See New York Times, January 19, 1980 p36
$52.50January 18, 1980Intraday CBOT High


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