|Home -> James H. Barry Press -> The Great Diamond Hoax - Chapter XXX|
"Old Miner" Draws on His Imagination and Tells Wild Tale of Single Gem as Big as A Pigeon's Egg.
Winter Causes Lull, But Cold Fails to Chill the Ardor of Men Counting on Millions in Spring.
On July 30, 1872, the articles of incorporation of the San Francisco and New York Mining and Commercial Company were formally filed and the report of Expert Janin was made public. As yet, however, the exact location of the diamond fields was undisclosed, because the company's rights to the great territories claimed were not completed, although a recent act of Congress changing the mining laws gave ample opportunity. The wildest tales concerning the new discoveries were at once turned loose. An article in the New York Sun, signed "Old Miner," located the exact position of the fields somewhere in Southeastern Arizona, a guess that happened to be out of the way by some seven or eight hundred miles. The "Old Miner" further stated that the company had in its possession a single gem larger than a pigeon's egg, of matchless purity of color, worth at a low estimate $500,000. You may be sure that this started a good-sized stampede for Arizona.
The directors had several meetings and decided to proceed with extreme circumspection. For one thing, they sent a large consignment of diamonds to the House of Rothschild in London for examination and sale. At the same time a party of fifteen, including miners, surveyors and others interested, were dispatched to the diamond fields for the purpose of exploring, surveying and securing our rights. In the meantime not a share of stock was placed on the market, although the excitement was intense.
I append an extract from a morning paper of the day following the incorporation and making public Janin's radiant report:
(Alta, Aug. 1. 1872.) - "American Diamond Fields. One Thousand Diamonds Now in This City. Also Four Pounds of Rubies and Large Sapphires."
"We have a wonderful story to tell. We listened to it at first with incredulity, but after hearing all our informant had to say we found reasons for believing it. We have seen a report written by Henry Janin, a mining engineer of an established reputation who had visited the mines, examined them and reported favorably on them. He has accepted the position of superintendent and has expressed the opinion that with twenty-five men he will take out gems worth at least $1,000,000 a month. In this paper he attached so much importance to the discovery that he discusses the question whether the price of rubies and diamonds is likely to depreciate in consequence of increased production and answers the question in the negative. We have thus commenced with Mr. Janin because he is well known here and it is mainly on his statements that confidence rests. His statements evidently command confidence, for some of the leading capitalists of the State have purchased stock."
"The place of the new mines has not been conimunicated to us by any of the interested parties, but street rumor says it is New Mexico. About three years ago, they say, an Indian near the diamond deposits gave several diamonds and rubies to a white man who brought them to Messrs. Roberts and Harpending in San Francisco. These gentlemen satisfied themselves of the value of the gems and sent men to hunt for more. They met the Indian after a long search, he took them to the place and was subsequently drowned. We tell the story as it was told to us."
"Then Mr. Janin went to the spot, washed a ton and a half of gravel, took out 1000 diamonds, four pounds of rubies and a dozen sapphires, and selected the best ground for mining. Three thousand acres were claimed under the mining law passed last session. The country for a considerable distance around was examined, but no equally promising deposit was found."
"Most of the diamonds found by Mr. Janin are small, weighing a karat. One obtained previously weighed over 100 karats, but was dark and of little value relatively. There are 109 karats in an avoirdupois ounce, so that a diamond weighing a karat is a small affair, yet if clear and well shaped may be worth from $25 to $50 . . . . Some of the sapphires are as large as pigeon eggs."
"The diamond mines are the property of the San Francisco and New York Mining and Commercial Company, which has been incorporated, and the directors are M. S. Latham, A. Gansl, W. F. Babcock, Louis Sloss, William M. Lent, T. H. Selby, Maurice Dore, General George B. McClellan and Samuel L. Barlow, the last two of New York. The company is incorporated in this city. It has 100,000 shares of stock and they have been selling at $40, making the present market value of the whole property $4,000,000."
"This price indicates great expectations, as Mr. Gansl is the agent of the Rothschilds and Mr. Latham of prominent British capitalists. A party of miners will go to the the mines with tools and provisions for the winter's work and the extraction of gems will begin. The stones are to be brought to San Francisco and cut here."
But that was nothing compared with what followed, when the last party returned from the fields on October 6. Previous to that Deacon Fitch had cautioned the public more than once to go slow on the diamond craze. But thereafter even he joined the procession joyously. Witness this:
(From the Bulletin, Oct. 7, 1872.)
"The Diamond Fields - About the 20th of August a party of fifteen men left this city to explore the diamond fields about which there has been such a furore of excitement. Amongst them were the following well-known gentlemen: G. D. Roberts, General John W. Bost, M. G. King, M. G. Gillette, Alfred Rubery, John F. Boyd, Dr. C. Cleveland, E. M. Fry, Chauncey Fairfield and Chas. G. Myers."
"The members of the expedition returned last evening. They experienced no trouble with the Indians, but had a very tedious march to the fields and thence home. The heads of the party declare that their explorations more than confirmed the original report of Janin of the extent and richness of the deposits and they exhibited specimens which they say they secured with their own exertions with but little labor. This party went merely to explore and prospect the country where the diamonds and rubies were said to abound and not for the purpose of working. They say that active operations could not be carried on when they were there, as the altitude is great and the ground covered with snow. The specimens they brought back are similar to those previously exhibited in this city and they number 286 diamonds of various sizes."
"Mr. Roberts says that if they had been deceived they are the worst deceived and cheated men whoever lived. They surveyed 3000 acres of land and propose to keep secret the exact locality until the company receives a Government patent. The implements used by them seem to have been ordinary jackknives - an improvement on the boot heels of the original locators. If so much wealth can be turned up by such primitive means, what might be accomplished with shovels and pickaxes? The report of the party renewed the excitement and little else is talked about on California street but diamonds and rubies. A meeting of the trustees of the company was called for 2 p. m. and further developments will be awaited with interest. A fact that is so easily demonstrated as the existence of diamonds in that country should not be longer one of doubt and suspicion."
Of course, everything was closed down for the winter. But every holder of the company's stock figured on being a millionaire at least by the early spring, from the proceeds of his diamond field adventures.
I should have added that when we returned from the diamond fields Mr. Janin took a package of the gems we had found to Tiffany for valuation. We had estimated them to be worth $20,000, but the jeweler scaled this down to $8000. This didn't disturb Janin. He considered it a "bear" movement.