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Thread Title: Gold used to buy information during WW-II
Created On Saturday March 12, 2011 2:11 PM
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RWB
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Saturday March 12, 2011 2:11 PM

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A brief excerpt from the next research book.

“During WW-II intelligence operatives used gold coins to buy information. Although one might assume the U.S. Army would use U.S. gold coins, quantities of which remained in mint vaults, this was not the case. The most widely accepted gold coins were British sovereigns and half sovereigns, and French Louis d’or with Canadian $5 and $10 also used on occasion, such as in the Sicilian invasion.

“During the weeks prior to the Allied invasion of North Africa on November 8, 1942 (Operation Torch), G-2 expert General Mark Clark carried one hundred Louis d’or coins when he and his small party secretly went to Algeria in North Africa. They met with Vichy officials including General Charles Mast, the French commander-in-chief in Algiers. The gold was used to bribe local Vichy officials and helped Clark determine if the Americans would be welcomed as liberators or opposed as invaders.

“Another use for gold coins was in escape kits carried by Allied aircraft during missions in North Africa and the Middle East. During the initial phase of Operation Torch, $700,000 in gold was authorized for use by the Twelfth Air Force in the kits and by General George Patton to reward native informers speed performance of essential services where natives would not accept paper currency.”

[US gold coin designs were not familiar to most foreign residents, whereas the British sovereign was well known and universally accepted except in French- speaking areas.]

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WillieBoyd2
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Saturday March 12, 2011 2:14 PM

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In the 1963 James Bond film "From Russia with Love",
James Bond (Sean Connery) carries an attache case with 50 gold Sovereigns.



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SanctionII
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Saturday March 12, 2011 2:38 PM

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Interesting information as always RWB.

It makes sense that gold coinage was used by the armed services in WWII [and probably prior wars] to assist in moving the war effort forward, by using it to make friends with the local population and to obtain information helpful to the cause.

When I think of gold and WWII, I think of the Nazis stealing and hiding the assets of the general population that they plundered; and I think of the movie "Kelly's Heros" where a highly motivated group of US soldiers leaped forward ahead of the main allied forces to capture a town behind German lines [not because they were valient and seeking the glorification of being at the spearhead of the battle, but because they knew a bank in the newly abandoned town was filled with unprotected gold bars and they wanted the gold all to themselves].

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Priest
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Saturday March 12, 2011 2:54 PM

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A friend of mine had an interest in WW-2 anything and everything he told me about the kits that were carried by piolts and crew of fighter planes and bombers alike. He was always searching for them, sort of like 1955 DDO BU Cent (raw of course) Taped to the bottom of a pack of Lucky Strikes.

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RWB
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Saturday March 12, 2011 3:00 PM

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Some of the kits included 3 gold rings, 3 1/2 sovereigns and 2 sovereigns. Others substituted French gold coins. A few complete kits survive and are prized by militaria collectors.

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DaveG
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Saturday March 12, 2011 3:01 PM

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"French Louis d'or"?

Really?

Are they serious or do they not know that 20 Franc pieces are generally called Napoleons?

Surely, 20 Franc pieces, which were made in large numbers throughout the 19th century and last originally minted* just before WWI (i.e., less than 30 years before most of WWII happened) would have been much more familiar to most Europeans and Africans than coins last minted in the 1780's!

Also, where would they have gotten the Louis d'or? If they were hidden in large numbers during the early 19th century, that is not reflected by their relative rarity in the modern numismatic market. Surely, Napoleon I would have grabbed and recoined (into 20 Franc pieces with his image on them) all the Louis d'or he could get his hands on.

Also, as a comparison, the English (and others) used sovereigns - they didn't use guineas!



(*Yes, I know, the Roosters were subsequently restruck, although I don't know during what years the restrikes were minted. Does anyone happen to know?)

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lcoopie
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Saturday March 12, 2011 3:05 PM

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gold certainly was and is more appealing than any nations currency

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RWB
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Saturday March 12, 2011 3:11 PM

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Yep....that's the advantage of "drafts." It's one of dozens of items in official documents that don't make sense. This is one of those highlighted terms.

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DaveG
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Saturday March 12, 2011 3:20 PM

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Roger,

Perhaps it was fashionable for some people to refer to 20 Franc pieces as "Louis d'or"; sort of like the way the English kept using the word "guinea" in describing the cost of luxury goods during the 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries.

I can point to a number of references in popular British fiction of the use of "guinea" in such a manner: for example, "That's a fifty guinea suit"; but I haven't read enough French fiction to know whether anyone used Louis d'or in the same way.

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CaptHenway
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Saturday March 12, 2011 5:14 PM

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Probably the common gold 20 Francs of Emperor Napoleon III, whose name was Louis Napoleon. Their common nickname is of course "Napoleons." and I beieve that they were mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Red-Headed League."

TD

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DaveG
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Saturday March 12, 2011 7:16 PM

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Give the Sherlock Holmes fan a cookie!

He is, of course, correct.

Also, Mr. Jabez Wilson reported: "... on Saturday the manager came in and planked down four golden sovereigns for my week's work."

No guineas there!

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RWB
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Saturday March 12, 2011 7:23 PM

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Wasn't the gold pound (sovereign) worth 20 shillings and the gold guinea worth 21 shillings?

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CaptHenway
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Saturday March 12, 2011 7:39 PM

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<< Wasn't the gold pound (sovereign) worth 20 shillings and the gold guinea worth 21 shillings? >>



Yes.

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ProofArtworkonCircs
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Saturday March 12, 2011 9:30 PM

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Several folk have told me some WW II escape kits included gold certificates. The reason gold certificates were used was because local folk knew (or thought) that they could get gold coins for them which they could not for ordinary money. The whole thing sounds very, very fishy to me. Anybody else hear of this?

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Bayard1908
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Saturday March 12, 2011 10:06 PM

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I have seen a Vietnam era pilot kit that included British sovereigns.

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291fifth
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Saturday March 12, 2011 11:08 PM

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British sovereigns were the "real" money of much of post-war Europe. They brought premiums over the gold value.

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PerryHall
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Sunday March 13, 2011 4:53 AM

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<< Several folk have told me some WW II escape kits included gold certificates. The reason gold certificates were used was because local folk knew (or thought) that they could get gold coins for them which they could not for ordinary money. The whole thing sounds very, very fishy to me. Anybody else hear of this? >>



I thought the gold certificates were recalled and destroyed in 1933 and were no longer redeemable for gold.

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CaptHenway
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Sunday March 13, 2011 6:01 AM

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<< Several folk have told me some WW II escape kits included gold certificates. The reason gold certificates were used was because local folk knew (or thought) that they could get gold coins for them which they could not for ordinary money. The whole thing sounds very, very fishy to me. Anybody else hear of this? >>



Total booshwa.

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CCC2010
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Sunday March 13, 2011 6:44 AM

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Thanks guys for sharing this info. This is really cool....I learn about coins and history!

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ColonelJessup
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Sunday March 13, 2011 1:06 PM

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RWB is OTM about escape kits.

I stll have one I bought from Fred Weinberg at a CSNS show when gold was about $600.

Transaction went:

Fred "I have one of those aviator escape kits from WWII."
CJ "Cool, I'll buy it. How much do I pay you"
Fred "Melt is fine. I'll throw in the shipping."

As the rubberized cover is fused together and I don't want to damage the box, I have never opened it. Guess I should try.

The box is 4" by 5" (approx) and reads at top in raised lettering (centered)

If Found Return To
ComNavAirLant (CNAL 34)
Norfolk, Virginia

2/3 down on one side is a recessed rectangle with raised numbers (centered)

27 78


The rings and coins are what I was told was in there.

What European in enemy-occupied territory would take a gold certificate based on the full faith and credit of the US (if he could translate that, if gold certificates said that, if they were actually not obsolete and their value not accurate, and the American dollar not circulating enough in Europe for anyone to recognize it, and their value incorrect because of the $20-$35 revaluation) when he could have actual negotiable gold?

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Edited: Sunday March 13, 2011 at 1:24 PM by ColonelJessup

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