This story, without a doubt, has to be one of the most cunning and crafty hoaxes ever perpetrated on a group of learned men which included bankers, financiers and mining engineers.  It reads more like a Hollywood script than actual fact, but it’s all true and quite fascinating how it was pulled off.

In February of 1872, Philip Arnold and John Slack strolled into the Bank of California in downtown San Francisco carrying a canvas bag and purported themselves to be prospectors who wanted to deposit their treasures in the bank’s vaults.  The cashier demanded to see the contents of the bag and when the bag was opened discovered hundreds of uncut diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies.  The bank’s founder, William Ralston, was called into check out the deposit — intrigued, he wanted to know more.

WmRalston

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