The 42 bars of 100 ounces each and a couple of smaller pieces were found in a safety deposit box rented before the hospital, now owned by the city and county jointly, was rented to Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation in 1989. The silver came from recycled x-rays. Baptist bought the hospital last month, with plans to replace it with a new facility within five years.
Pope Mallette, attorney for the Oxford Board of Aldermen, consulted several people familiar with precious metal sales.
"We batted around some ideas about how to sell it," he said. The consensus was to publish notices in area newspapers and on relevant websites to attract buyers who are interested in anything from one bar to the full stock. At Tuesday's high New York spot price of $42.79 per ounce, the collection could bring more than $180,000.
"We suggest you run advertisements and sell it on the courthouse steps," Mallette said. "We would split both the costs and the realized value with the county; if we kept any for ourselves, we would approach it as a buyer."
The idea to keep a bar or two for special use was the brainchild of Ward 2 Alderman Ernest "E.O." Oliver. Next year will be the city's 175th anniversary, and he suggested perhaps minting coins to commemorate the event, as was done for its sesquicentennial.
If Lafayette County supervisors agree to the proposed sale, as expected, the exchange could happen within a few weeks.