So where did those gold coins come from? Not from the Dimmick Defalcation, apparently.
A Northern California couple recently found a stash of coins (today worth millions of dollars) buried on their property. Theories abound about the coins’ source, The Times’ Samantha Schaefer reports.
Others speculated the coins were some of those that went missing from the San Francisco Mint at the turn of the century. Chief Clerk Walter Dimmick was convicted of stealing $30,000 — six bags of double eagle gold coins, 250 $20 coins in each — and served time in San Quentin prison for what was later called the Dimmick Defalcation. The coins were never recovered.
But there is no connection between the recent discovery and the stolen coins, said U.S. Mint spokesman Adam Stump. Officials looked into the matter when they heard of the discovery last week, and will not take any action, he said.
"We’ve done our research, and we can’t find any link," he said.
It’s too bad, because the Dimmick Defalcation is interesting to follow in The Times’ archive.
The theft was discovered in late June of 1901, and The Times’ headline on July 4 was “Bags of Gold Disappear.”
The Times carried a quote from one Walter N. Dimmick, chief clerk of the Mint: “It is true that the books do not balance, but it is wrong to say positively that there is a shortage. Some book-keeper may have made an error. Personally, I believe that the difficulty will be adjusted, and that some careless clerk is responsible.”
I suppose he would say that. He was arrested about a month later.
United States District Attorney Woodworth said today that the government officers had very strong evidence that Dimmick stole $30,000 from the mint vault. He is charged under four counts with embezzling $32,700.
… [An unnamed Secret Service official said:] “Two years ago, from what I have learned, Dimmick lifted $1000 from the salary fund of the mint, of which he had charge. Last year Dimmick took $2000 from the blue-stone fund. I am told that he owned up to both stealings, but made good the amounts and was promoted in the face of these transactions.”
He was convicted in April 1903, by which time he had already been in prison for two years. Dimmick was sent “forthwith to the penitentiary” on April 13, 1903.
Browse The Times’ coverage of the Demmick Defalcation (and other contemporary stories) here.
Two word-nerd items to note: “Defalcation,” a synonym for “embezzlement” appears quite often in The Times in the late 1890s and early 1900s. “Peculation” — making an appearance in one of the subheadlines in the August 1901 article about Dimmick’s arrest — was in wide use in the 1920s and earlier in The Times. It’s particularly apt in the Dimmick case. From Webster’s Fourth: “peculate: to steal or misuse (money or property entrusted to one’s care, esp. public funds)”.
— Matt Ballinger
Photo: David Hall, President of Collectors Universe, holds a 1894, $20 gold coin at his office in Newport Beach. The coin was part of a Northern California couple’s discovery. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times