In the good old days when money was actually backed by something real like gold and silver, the exchange rate from silver to gold was set to 16:1. As much as I grow a rubbery one at the thought of a gold-backed currency, such goverment tinkering resulted in some serious imbalances. To make an instant profit from arbitrage between gold and silver, one had to simply accumulate a large amount of silver money and exchange it for gold money. For a long explanation on how this worked, I refer you to this article. Now that silver, gold, and cash have been decoupled from each other, the rate of exchange between the two metals can float freely.
I have a small amount of bullion hidden away that I fondly call my "apocalypse fund", just in case really bad things happen. Now, hopefully these things will not happen, but my investment will not be in vain since bullion has beaten inflation in the past few years. What is the reason for this title? Well, I don't want to hold silver anymore for one simple reason: outside of the United States the sale of silver is subject to a VAT tax. The fact that gold is easy to carry than silver is offset by the fact that it's harder to make small purchases with gold than silver.
Now, since the silver and gold ratio vary wildly lately, and it's hard to time the market, when taking fees into consideration, the conversion ratio was about 45:1! Which means that this much silver:converts into this much gold, plus a small hit to my credit card:
Kinda sucks, doesn't it?
EDIT 2007/6/29: My fiancée is understandably concerned that I'm revealing sensitive financial information on the internet. For those willing to come looking for my pot of gold (and a disappointingly small pot it would be), rest assured that it lays in a securely locked chest an the bottom of a well in an undisclosed location while guarded 24-7 by sharks with laser beams on their foreheads. And koi.