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As long as we're talking about thefts from the mints. . .

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The following is from an article I wrote for the eNewsletter of the Southern Gold Society about four years ago. I was interested in the rather clumsy way the Cashier tried to cover up his theft and very interested in the story of the woman from the Treasury's redemption division pieced together the remains of the currency.


Over the years, I've read several articles about the work of the redemption division and I've always found the articles very interesting.



Theft by the Cashier in 1893


From the 1893 Mint Annual Report:


The annual settlement of the mint at New Orleans, June 30, 1893, was superintended by Mr. H. Clay Stier, of the office of the First Auditor, and Mr. Leonard Magruder, of New Orleans, who witnessed and took account of the bullion and coin delivered by the melter and refiner, and coiner to the superintendent in settlement of their accounts, after which they weighed the bullion and counted the coin and other moneys with which the superintendent was charged, and for which he is responsible.


In counting the currency (Treasury notes) in the cashier’s vault a deficiency of $25,000 was found, which the cashier claimed were destroyed by a fire that occurred in his vault between the closing of the same Saturday afternoon, June 24, and the opening thereof on Monday morning, June 26, 1893.


On June 26, 1893, the superintendent of the mint advised this Bureau by telegraph of the fire, and requested that some competent person who was accustomed to the handling of charred money be sent from the Department to count the money charred by the fire in the cashier’s vault. Through the courtesy of the Treasurer of the United States, Mrs. L.E. Rosenberg, of the redemption division, was sent to New Orleans, who, after much patient labor, found among the charred paper $1,182 in currency which had not been destroyed beyond identification, leaving a deficiency of $23,818 to be accounted for. The circumstances of the fire were such as to lead to the belief that it was not accidental, but of incendiary origin, for the purpose of concealing a shortage in the cashier’s accounts, he being the only person having access to the vault. Taking this view of the case, a thorough investigation as to the origin of the fire was made by Mr. A.R. Barrett, of the secret service. The evidence collected by him was deemed sufficient to justify the arrest of the cashier, who was taken before the United States commissioner, and gave bail for his future appearance.



From the 1894 Mint Annual Report:


The former cashier of the mint at New Orleans, who was arrested for the embezzlement of $25,000 in June, 1893, was tried before the United States court at New Orleans in December last, and was acquitted of the charge.


Suit has been instituted against the former superintendent, Dr. Andrew W. Smyth, and is now pending for the recovery of the amount.



Here's some background information of the position of the Cashier:


The position of Cashier was created as a result of the Coinage Act of 1873, which directed that “the offices of the treasurer of the mints in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New Orleans shall be vacated,” and “[t]he duties of the treasurers shall devolve as herein provided upon the superintendents, and said treasurers shall act only as assistant treasurers of the United States…” Essentially, the position of Treasurer of the Mint was demoted from a Presidential appointment to a subordinate of the Superintendent. The Act also required the officers of the mints to post a bond of between $10,000 and $50,000 for the faithful and diligent performance of their duties, which explains why the Government instituted a suit against Dr. Smyth.


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Thanks for the record. You wonder who would be considered the most reliable at the mints who actually wanted the jobs, formerly highly responsible people in the military or in other fields?

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