The Gold Scam of 1897
For those of you who are unaware of it, the greatest
concentrations of gold on earth lie in suspension within our
oceans. The theory is that if all that gold could be culled,
there would be enough to make every man on this planet
independently wealthy. This gold is found in the polar ice caps,
in the seas themselves, and, in greatest concentration, in
plankton. Ahh my friends, this is the stuff dreams are made of.
Throughout time, from the moment it was discovered how much gold
our planet’s waters actually held, scientists were busy trying to
figure out how to extract the metal profitably. And while the
scientists were busy toiling away, their backs weary from
hunching over their papers, scam artists began to appear. One in
The year is 1897. A Baptist minister appears on the horizon. He
is of exemplary stature. He is the leader of his flock. He is a
noble citizen of his community. He is a dreamer. And brother, let
me tell you something. He knows how to dream the impossible
His name is Prescott Ford Jennigan. And this is what he dreamt.
And I paraphrase. My fellow Americans, he may well have said. It
has been revealed to me through forces beyond my ken…it has
been revealed to a method of extracting gold from our oceans.
Look here my friends. Look at what I have.
What he had was a zinc-lined wooden box filled with mercury. He
called his contraption an “Accumulator”. To cull the gold from
our salted waters, my friends.
Prescott had his audience by the nuggets, to turn a phrase. And
he convinced two of his parishioners to invest. Which they did.
And so, soon after, a prototype was built and lowered into the
ocean by a deep-sea diver. It was left in the waters for neap and
ebb tide, and was then brought out, with the residue inside sent
to a government assayer. The results…5 smackeroos of pure gold.
Oh joy oh joy. The parishioners were ecstatic.
$20,000.00 was put up for further testing. Everything was going
great. By Jove, every time an Accumulator was put in the waters,
it returned satisfying yields of gold. A company was formed. The
Electrolytic Marine Salts Company. It was capitalized in Boston
to the tune of 10 million dollars. 700,000 shares were quickly
sold. There were now 250 Accumulators around. Each one was
yielding over $1200.00 per immersion.
Let’s see…250 times $1200.00 equals $300,000 per tide turn.
Twice a day …better than a half a million bucks every 24 hours.
Hey…yo…Pressy, let me in on this. Alas, that old adage which
says that if something sounds too good to be true it usually is,
holds firm in this instance. It turns out that old Pressy was
sending his divers down into the watery depths when no one was
looking, to salt his Accumulators. Of course, the jig was up. And
old Pressy got his come-uppance. But in all fairness to the
rascal, his Accumulators did in fact work. They produced gold.
Only thing was, the gold was not culled from the oceans so much
as it was culled from his investors’ pockets. Now…if he had
only explained that in the beginning…
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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