Bob Van Ryzin provided the following information on his new
"This is the book I long wanted to have published and,
with 25 chapters, it covers a lot of territory.
'Crime of 1873: The Comstock Connection', just released by
Krause Publications, culminates research I have been doing
into the history of the Coinage Act of 1873 since the 1970s.
Along the way, I had the good fortune to uncover a series of
previously unpublished letters that show conclusively that not
all was above board with the passage of this important act.
The book begins with William C. Ralston’s death under
mysterious circumstances one day after the collapse of the
Bank of California, of which he was a founder and president.
By the late 1860s much of the Comstock Lode was
controlled by Ralston and his “bank ring.”
Early chapters cover the discovery of the lode and the dire fate
of its locators, the beginning of deep mining, hazards of mining
the lode, the great Gold Hill fire of 1869, the building of the
bank-controlled Virginia and Truckee Railroad, and Adolph
Sutro’s tunnel. The book then moves into the heart of my
research, detailing Ralston’s early career in Panama and as a
San Francisco shipping agent (he was on hand for the departure
of the ill-fated treasure ship the Yankee Blade), followed by
his involvement in early California banking, the formation of the
Bank of California, and his rise to power on the lode.
By the late 1860s Ralston had come in contact with Dr. Henry
R. Linderman. This relationship was first observed by John M.
Willem Jr. in The United States Trade Dollar, but Willem could
find no evidence of Ralston’s involvement in anything related to
coinage. Willem also concluded, logically (considering the
known source material at that time), that Linderman had little
to do with the mint bill until shortly before its passage.
This proves, however, to be incorrect. In some very candid
letters written by Linderman to Ralston from 1871-1873
(including one signed under the alias “Guyescutes”), the
Treasury agent reveals not only his behind-the-scenes role in
key provisions of the mint bill that would benefit the silver
interests but also that he was taking payments from Ralston
in return for his efforts.
I was able to obtain a photograph of a $3,500 bill of
exchange made out to Linderman, the supporting letter in
which Linderman requested that sum, and Ralston’s
response, agreeing to pay an additional $5,000 for
Linderman’s continued vigilance. The letters and Bank of
California sight draft are reproduced in the book with
complete documentation as to source.
Additional letters show that Linderman and Ralston were
aware of the coming decline in silver nearly a year prior to
the bill’s final passage and worked to place the nation on a
gold standard (through passage of the mint bill) before it
could be flooded with silver, while securing provision for the
Trade dollar and making plans to replace fractional currency
with subsidiary silver coins to support silver prices.
Linderman would continue to act on Ralston’s behalf after
taking over as Mint director in 1873, though evidence of any
additional payments is lacking. Through his “Old Man” letters
of 1874 and early 1875, it is clear he helped Ralston to secure
some previously blocked provisions as part of the Specie
Just prior to his death, Linderman was under investigation in
Congress for, among other things, taking stock payments from
the lode’s Bonanza Kings. The book includes what is known
of the investigation, the story of Linderman’s coin collection,
and his estate records.
Later chapters focus on Ralston’s fall from power on the lode,
the discovery of the Big Bonanza, the collapse of the Bank of
California, and Ralston’s death in San Francisco Bay. The rise
of the Free Silver Movement is also detailed as are the myths
of foreign intrigue surrounding the Crime of 1873 developed
by free silver writers.
Sandwiched in and around this story are chapters dealing with
collecting Morgan and Trade dollars (including current pricing
and a timeline for each date), the Carson City Mint, the GSA
silver dollar sales, and William Jennings Bryan’s 1896
presidential bid and the Bryan Money it spawned.
The book is hard cover, 304 pages, 8.5” x 11.” It includes
more than 300 photos (many Comstock or coin related), and is
priced at $34.95. It is available directly from the publisher or
at major bookstores."