The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 41, October 14, 2007, Article 7


John Kleeberg writes: "You said you would welcome comments 
about the Ford XXI catalog, containing Western Assayers? 
Ingots. You also ask about pieces that one would have 
expected to be part of the Ford Collection, which were 
not covered in the auction catalogs. This is particularly 
true of the ingots. It is clear that the collection has 
been carefully culled.

"This can be demonstrated most clearly in the case of a 
purported Wells Fargo bar, which Ford mentioned in the 
Legacy interview:

Q: ?What are some of the great rarities that you own?? 

A: Ford: ?I have a monetary assay ingot that I think is a 
fabulous piece. It is dated 1854 and was made by Wass, Molitor 
and Company for Wells Fargo Bankers, and is so marked. In 
addition to that, there is the Internal Revenue tax stamp 
indicating that it was reassayed subsequent to June 30, 1864, 
when they put a bullion tax on ingots to help pay for the 
Civil War.? 

"A photograph of this piece is in Donald H. Kagin's 'Private 
Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States' (1981), p. 308. 
This piece has been excluded from the Ford auctions. 

"And there are a lot of other pieces, which one might have 
expected to be in Ford?s collections, which were not part of 
the auction. A few years ago Alan Herbert said that Ford 
owned the Blake & Co. $50 ingot (Kagin p. 281). That has 
not popped up. Ford is said to have formed a complete set 
of coins of the United States Assay Office of Gold of 1853 
? but no $20 coin of 900 fine has been auctioned. It was 
precisely that fineness and denomination that was produced 
in massive quantities as part of the phony ?Franklin Hoard.? 

"There have been no Mexican gold bars. There have been no 
U.S. Mint bars of 1865 with a false provenance to the Brother 
Jonathan, even though Ford stated that he received back a 
number of them after he stopped displaying some of his pieces 
at the Bank of California. There have been none of the common 
bogus gold bars such as F. G. Hoard, Star Mining Company, 
Eagle Mining Company, the gold Knight bars.

"Now this culling is, to my mind, very praiseworthy. 
Every time another fake gold bar enters the stream of 
commerce, a whole new chain of victims is created; so I do 
not want to see fake gold bars sold further. The catalog 
was put together with much research and thoughtfulness, and 
I am flattered that some of my own research is explicitly 
cited (on page 8 and in lot 3517), although by some oversight 
the website where this research may be found is not listed 
in the bibliography on page 98 - that website is 
Full Story. 

"I would, however, have gone further in culling the 
collection and would have excluded all the gold bars. 
The Wiegand gold bars are the most convincing among the 
gold bars ? there the forger did a superb job ? but a careful 
examination shows that even those cannot be genuine. There 
is one Wiegand gold bar that is clearly bogus (lot 3549), 
which has a curly top numeral seven that appears nowhere 
else in Wiegand?s work. Now inside the O of Ozs, on the 
right side, there is a raised hickey on lot 3549. This is 
visible on the photographs in the catalog, and it is very 
clear when examining the bars in person, which I did on 
October 10th. The raised hickey within the O appears on 
all the Wiegand gold bars: lots 3547, 3548, 3549, 3558 
(silver bar), and 3559. Since all these bars punchlink to 
3549, none can be genuine. Three of these bars are 
explicitly traceable to Paul Gerow Franklin, Sr. (1919-2000) 
in the provenance.

"We know from other sources that Paul Gerow Franklin,Sr., 
made fantasies. Lot 203 of Ford II (May 2004) described a 
?1962 Washington Counterstamp,? and adds in the description, 
?As struck in January, 1962 by Paul Franklin, Sr., one of 
two given to Ford and Bashlow, the third retained.? Another 
source is the New York Times of July 11, 1943, when Franklin 
was arrested for draft evasion, and it was mentioned that 
he already had a conviction for counterfeiting. A Franklin 
provenance is not one to inspire confidence.

"So it seems to be the case that a not insignificant number 
of the bars that Ford owned are not being auctioned, and they 
are not being auctioned because the catalogers do not have 
confidence in the genuineness of the pieces. This is admirable, 
but it would be more admirable still if all the cards were to 
be put on the table and we could know exactly which pieces 
the catalogers now consider to be dubious. That would help 
greatly to clean up the huge mess left behind by the 
activities of Paul Franklin?s ?Massapequa Mint.?

[When Kleeberg states that some ingots "are not being 
auctioned because the catalogers do not have confidence in 
the genuineness of the pieces.", this is only speculation. 
Everyone can read between the lines and come to their own 
conclusions, but there are many reasons for pieces not 
coming to auction. As with the unnauctioned Ford 1783 Nova 
Constellatio set and the several unauctioned Ford collections 
mentioned above by Alan Weinberg, the ingots Kleeberg 
described are likewise not currently scheduled for auction. 
But without confirmation from the Ford family or Stack's, 
the rest of us can only speculate on the reasons, which 
could be many and varied. 

In the end the marketplace may be the final arbiter of 
consensus on the authenticity of the questioned ingots. 
The sale estimates exhibit a markedly split personality - 
the ranges are wide enough to drive a convoy through. 
What are the cataloguers trying to say with estimated 
value ranges of "$700 to $9,000"? or "$1,000 to $15,000"? 
Why waste ink printing ranges so wide? They seem to be 
aimed at two different audiences - Believers and Skeptics, 
with the high end for those who believe an ingot is genuine, 
and the low end for the skeptics willing to buy what to 
them would be an interesting precious-metal paperweight 
for their desk. 

I expect the high-end estimates will prove in many cases 
to be conservative; the interesting thing to see is how 
many of the ingots realize far less than their high-end 
estimate. If any of our readers attend the sale, please 
send us a report on the action. -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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