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    Description

    Excessively Rare Goldfield Strike Scrip

    Goldfield, NV- Industrial Workers of the World $5
    A fascinating and rare piece of scrip that shines a light on a little remembered sliver of Nevada's history. This note was issued by the IWW (the abbreviated name of the Industrial Workers of the World union, aka the "Wobblies") at some point during the Goldfield miner's strike, which began as a response to the mine owner's introduction of scrip to pay their workers after the Panic of 1907. The IWW, which had been founded in 1905, was a revolutionary union dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism by uniting all skilled and unskilled workers to rebuild society in a socialist direction. The miners, which had been split into several opposing union camps, some conservative and some radical, united in protest, and struck the mines, stopping production and infuriating the mine operator, the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company. Unfortunately for the miners, the company was owned by two politically well connected individuals, prominent industrialist George Wingfield (see the $20 Red Seal from Reno offered elsewhere in this catalogue) and George Nixon (see above), a banker, mine operator, and United States Senator.

    The mine owners were determined to break the strike, which had brought gold production to a standstill. They telegraphed Nevada Governor "Honest John" Sparks, who wired President Roosevelt, informing the President that "domestic violence and unlawful corporations" existed in Goldfield. Alarmed, Roosevelt dispatched three companies of infantry to the town, catching the strikers by surprise (hence the reference on the front of the note to "Teddy Bear Currency" and the vignette of the stacked rifles at the bottom of the note.) With the military in place, the mine owners reduced wages, required miners to swear that they were not union members (most of the strikers refused), and recruited replacement labor (which the union derided as "scabs") to replace the strikers. Within weeks, the strike collapsed, and the unions were devastated. A later investigation by the state showed that the troops were called in without warrant, and President Roosevelt declared publicly that he had been duped by Governor Sparks.
    This is the only note we have ever seen from the Goldfield strike, and a piece of great historical interest. Well circulated Fine-Very Fine, with a split or two, but who can find another at any price?


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2012
    5th-10th Thursday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 757

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