Washington area investors, a relatively conservative group, generally came through Thursday's silver storm without too many bruises, according to local brokers.
But brokers said yesterday they were beseiged with calls from people looking as much for comfort as for financial advice in the aftermath of a day of dramatic changes in prices.
For the most part, Washington inves tors had been warned away from silver for months by brokerage firms that considered silver futures overpriced and risky. In the case of at least one brokerage house, Clayton Brokerage Co., the firm had also raise its margin on silver to 100 percent of the contract value, a move that further discouraged investors.
Washington, where there are apparently no large institutional investors in silved and no individual investors of the size of Nelson Bunker Hunt or Armand Hammer, was not really where the silver action was on Thursday. However, overflow reaction in other commodities took some investors for losses. A number of institutional investors were also able to come in and buy stocks at low, low prices at the bottom of the market on Thursday, brokers said.
When there was fallout from the silver boom and bust, it appeared to affect small investors -- the men and women who took their savings out of banks and credit unions and lined up at Deak-Perera to buy silver bars and pesos.
As the markets stabilized on Friday, investors continued to call brokers with quesitons ranging from the price of their stocks to the long-term outlook for the economy.
"We've had a lot of people call who were concerned, and I can understand that," said Vernon Isaac of ContiCommodity, one of the firms that had to come up with large sums of money to cover margin requirements on some of Hunt's silver contracts. "The street is full of rumors."
Leslie Silverstone at Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. said many investors called who read trading in the company's stock had been suspended and interpreted this as meaning the company was shutting down.
"I had one woman call me and start asking me what did I think was going to happen to the country. What is President Carter going to do?" said Silverstone. "She was reassured when I told her her mutual funds are secure. It's very bothersome.People are afraid," he said. "I think the strength of the market today is very reassuring."
The day before the calls had been even more panicky.
James R. Logan, senior vice president at Ferris & Co. Inc., said his "telephones literally were ringing all day long . . . People wanted to sell everything . . . They were concerned about the status of the brokerage business and there was a vacuum on the buy side."
Logan said the sell-off Thursday had "all the earmarks of a classic selling climax" that normally represents a market bottom. Logan predicted on Thursday that the market would go up on Friday, as it did.