The year was 1860 and the brothers bought the farm from the
government for 50 GBP. (Great British Pounds. today known as British
Pounds Sterling.) That's about $77.00 in today's market. One of the
brothers was affectionately known as Boelie. The name of the farm was
Vooruizicht. And then in 1871--a scant 11 years later--they sold the
farm for GBP 6300. That's a little over $9700.00 in today's market.
That's roughly 125% profit. Not bad, eh wot? Or so one would think.
Alas. it was the mistake of the eons past and present. For the
syndicate that bought the farm found an 83.50 carat diamond on the
land--now known as the Star of South Africa-which gave birth to the
inception of the international diamond rush to South Africa in 1868.
Johannes Nicholas De Beer--aka Boelie--and his brother Diederik
Arnoldus De Beer (original spelling) had little else to do with the
growth of the DeBeers project other than allowing the use of their
name now changed from De Beer to DeBeers. It all started with
Corneilsa--a Dutch digger who was allowed to prospect the farm for a
25% fee to the De Beer brothers. And news traveled and soon the farm
was swarming with diggers and the De Beer brother sold. They did not
know what they had.
And the 1870's reared up like a stallion in heat with the scent of a
mare nearby. And the fortune hunters began to prick up their ears.
One of them was an Englishman who wanted to become a cotton farmer in
Africa but instead bought a diamond mine called Kimberly and rented
out water pumps to other miners. Then on April Fool's Day in
1880--with assets of 200,000 British Pounds--Cecil Rhodes and two
other syndicates took over the major part of the mine and the rest is
pretty much history. except for a few interesting tangential bits of
which you might find interesting.
Facto numero uno: Why was the town and the mine called Kimberly?
Simple. The British could not pronounce Vooruizicht to they changed
the name to Kimberly in honor of British Colonial Secretary John F.
Facto numero two-o. What is the most effective advertising campaign
the world has ever known? The answer: "A Diamond Is Forever". This
slogan is singularly responsible for DeBeers' edibility to create and
artificial scarcity of diamonds in the world as most women would
rather keep their diamonds than their husbands. Don't believe me. Try
this out. Go home tonight. Say to your wife: It's me or your diamond.
and see what happens. My advice: Run for your life.
There's much more to tell. but I like to keep this thing short and
sweet. So one last little thing. and I'm on my way. As regards
Johannes Nicholas De Beer--aka Boelie--how many of you out there know
what he looked like. How many of you out there would like to know
what he looked like? Well. as happenstance would have it. I have a
picture of the old chap. You ready?
Okay. You all know what's coming. The visit to the image... also
known as the viewing experience. You know where to go. Home page.
. Scroll down. Left side. Tidbits. Click.
And there for your pleasure will be a picture of Johannes Nicholas De
And there ya have it. That's it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week. Benjamin Mark