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Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1887. This here item is a Rosetta Stone in relation to this previous and cryptic item. The orange grove here stands in for similar sucker bait in the other padlock story. Apparently the standard of industry in Chicago circa 1903 was to tempt the bumpkin with the spectacle of some sort of explosion, but the bad guys who hustled Peter Ferguson instead offered to show him where a car had driven into. Claro que si, no?
Note that the shill here offers to bet both guys, which is good con-game psychology.
Dunno why possession of Confederate money is probative, unless there’s another con game that entails its use somehow.


  1. Were bumpkins more bumpkinacious back in the day? I’m just not getting why anyone would think, “Oh, hell,yeah, I bet I *could* unlock a padlock without a key.” Also, even in the days before we knew that all strangers were evil pedophile serial killers, surely we knew that anyone who was hanging around on street corners picking up guys and offering to show them where the horse bit him were not up to any good. Or was the youth hoping for something else? (And since when does Chicago breed hayseeds?)

    • (And since when does Chicago breed hayseeds?)

      I think you’ve gotta look at this in the context of Los Angeles (pronounced with a hard “g”) newspapermen making presumptive fun of what isn’t yet flyover country.

      That said, I agree that a lot of the old-timey short cons do seem awfully naive and cartoonish in their psychology. And yet, there are people among us who fall for Nigerian email scams, so maybe we haven’t come so awfully far.

      Or was the youth hoping for something else?

      No, no, that’s completely ahistorical: homosexuality wasn’t invented until the 1920s.

  2. Confederate money was never considered legal by the US government, only the Confederate government for the brief time in which there was such a thing. After the war it was all completely without value. I don’t believe it was actually illegal to have Confederate money, but if nothing else I do think these guys’ carrying what was then a notably large denomination of the stuff 20 years after the war would at least be weird enough to report.

    • Yeah, I expect there was some scam that involved convincing the sucker that its value was somehow redeemable, or that the South would rise again, so somesuch.

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