Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thanks Ainaxab

I've been called a data digger. Seems that I have better luck digging up history than I do bottles these days.

Recently, Dale posted a "new find".

Ainaxab, The Celebrated Egyptian Elixi for the Skin, A.J. Girardin & Co. San Francisco


I told him that I'd do some "prospecting" for him and see what I could find. Talk about a dead end...

Tom Q. chimed in the other day and said that he'd dug 3 or 4 Ainaxab's over the years; all in late 70's or early 80's context. I recalled having dug one in the upper reaches of the Klamath River back in the late 1970's. It was broken, and was in an area that was somewhat later; a railroad track and trestle construction camp that post dated their estimate of age by at least 15 years. Mine was probably a throwback.

After what seemed like forever, pouring over S.F. directories and newspapers dating from ca. 1875 - 1905, I admitted defeat. Both the man and the brand eluded my best efforts to track them down.
I had the TV on and overheard the hype about the gold coin find that had gone viral.

I'd heard about it some time before, thought "neat", and quickly forgot about it. But this time, for whatever reason, I figured that I stood as good of a chance (or lack thereof) of putting the pieces of the gold coin hoard together as I did of locating Ainaxab or A.J. Girardin.

It took a while, since my initial premise was slightly off. I figured that the gold coins were the spoils of a bank or Wells Fargo heist gone bad and that the masked men had been killed before they could recover the loot.

But the stagecoach robbery just didn't fit. Stage robberies dwindled with Black Bart's apprehension and subsequent sentencing on  November 16, 1883 and were all but non-existent by the mid 1890's; the year appearing on the most recent gold coin of the stash. Trains were the prize of the day by then. California newspaper articles from 1894 - 1905 didn't list anything of particular interest relating to trains either. As such, I fell back on the bank theft concept.

I used gold / coin / theft / bank and came up pretty much empty handed. Something kept bugging me. Kagin stated that the coins dubbed "The Saddle Ridge Hoard" ranged in age from 1847 - 1894, and "All of the 1,427 coins, are in un-circulated, mint condition". To repeat, "All are in un-circulated, mint condition". Kagin further stated that the face value of the gold pieces adds up to about $27,000
And so, I left "Bank" out of the search parameters, and started with newspaper articles that mentioned significant gold coin thefts in 1894. Moving forward chronologically, I came up blank; until 1901!

On July 4, 1901, I hit pay dirt, thanks to the San Francisco Call.
Talk about fireworks going off!
Chief Clerk, Walter M. Dimmick, of the US Mint in San Francisco is at the heart of this mystery! Yep $30,000~ in gold had turned up missing! Mint and uncirculated gold coins, pilfered one at a time, from sack after sack of coins in the vault at the US mint.



The above articles cover the span of time from July 4, 1901 through April 14, 1903, when Dimmick entered San Quentin. At no time did Chief Clerk Walter M. Dimmick ever disclose where the stolen gold had been hidden. Walter Dimmick went to the grave with his secret. The gold never surfaced.

At least not until last Spring? 
Was the find a godsend, or a curse to the property owners...
The big question is, what becomes of it now?

Will the US government play nice and let the finders be keepers?
(Photos of gold coins courtesy of Holabird - Kagin)


  1. Excellent "sleuth" work Bruce! It seems easier to solve a hundred and fifteen year gold heist than find out about the Egyptian Skin Elixir :)
    As for "What happens next", my understanding is that the coins are considered a "trove" find, and if determined to be a legitimate find owned by the finders, the top tax bracket applies on the full appraised value and is immediately due ( at least in this current tax year). So the finders likely owe over $5 million dollars in taxes which I would bet they do not have. Apparently, most of the coins will be sold through Amazon. Now here's the rub...IF the coins are truly deemed to have been stolen from the government, they must be returned...this has recently occurred with another sum of gold coins, and no amount of legal fighting could prove true ownership by the finders, and the coins were confiscated by the government. Bruce, YOU might have actually cracked the case and if these are that stolen group of coins which Dimmick pilfered, the government will likely demand their return. Interesting... Dale M.

  2. You could see it coming from the beginning, an absolute nightmare for the finders. Moral of the story? When you find millions in gold coins, don't go public. Dole them out one at a time. Sell privately to collectors. Go ask the finders what they would do if they had it to do all over again? Want to venture a guess what their answer will be?

    Super job, "Bruce Tracy"!

    (sorry for the anonymous post, couldn't get it to go under my handle)


  3. Looks like the word on the Dimmick heist and the possible connection to the gold coin discovery has spread quickly. They are now saying there's no connection. Here's the latest: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-gold-coins-northern-california-mint-theft-20140304,0,3666293.story#axzz2v3zxb800

  4. You better believe that our government will try to take away as much as possible! After all; our government needs to support half of the world, while ignoring the national debt! Natural Americans need to wake up; and demand corrections to all fraud committed by our beloved Congress and President; or become a slave to other countries whom we are in debt to! Our beautiful country is doomed!!!!!!!!!!!