BrianRxm Coins on Television 5/29
Death Valley Days - The Private Mint of Clark, Gruber and Co. (1962)
Denver Colorado bankers Clark, Gruber, & Co. mints their own coins
Prev Back Next
This episode of "Death Valley Days" shows privately made gold coins being manufactured, in bank trays,
and being held by various people.
The size of the prop coins indicates that they are supposed to be twenty-dollar gold pieces or
"double eagles", the largest coins made by the United States mints.
"Death Valley Days" was a half-hour television series which was produced for local television stations
and ran from 1952 to 1970.
All of the episodes had a host who introduced the story.
The host for the first 13 years was the "Old Ranger" (actor Stanley Andrews) who appeared as an
old west lawman.
This episode "The Private Mint of Clark, Gruber and Co." was first broadcast on December 28, 1962.
The story is set in Denver, Colorado in 1860 when there was a lot of gold mining being done in the area.
The miners would deposit their gold dust with the Clark, Gruber, and Co. bank and receive US gold coins.
The bank ran out of government coins and manufactured their own gold coins, leading to a legal dispute
with the US government.
Death Valley Days
1. Title
The program's logo of a Borax twenty-mule team was present on all episodes.
The Old Ranger appears in front of the Clark, Gruber and Co. office and introduces the program:
Death Valley Days
2. The Old Ranger introduces the program
He appears to be wearing a belt buckle with a silver dollar on it.
Howdy folks, I'm the Old Ranger
In the year 1860, in the territory known as Colorado, the Mile High City of Denver measured
from sea level to the 16th step of the old courthouse was the farthest outpost of the frontier.
Now despite it's fine weather and good black soil, gold was the bait.
Though the little town was still in its infancy, it already had a newspaper, hotel, theatre, hospital,
school, and what was destined to add one of the most fantastic chapters to our American history, a bank.
The Clark, Gruber, and Co. bank is run by Milton Clark and Emmmanuel "Manny" Gruber.
Milton's wife Martha is the third partner in the enterprise.
The bank has a customer turning in gold dust.
Death Valley Days
3. Milton Clark and a customer
The sign on the teller's cage reads:
The bank weighs the gold dust using special weights which are five per-cent over normal.
"It saves us a lot of complicated arithmetic".
At home, the three partners discuss business.
Death Valley Days
4. Gruber and the Clarks discuss business
The bank has been losing money by exchanging dust for coin.
Martha suggests that they make their own money.
Clark asks Martha to go bake a cake or something or go wash the dishes but Gruber says that
she may have a good idea.
"Mint your own coins right here in Denver".
The three set up minting equipment in a building.
When they are ready to strike the first coins, they inform William Byers, a newspaper reporter,
who joins them.
Death Valley Days
5. Weighing the first coin
The coin has the correct weight and the four pass it arround.
Death Valley Days
6. Byers holds the coin
The coin is an obvious prop coin with a smooth edge, and it's size indicates it is a twenty dollar gold piece.
The Clark, Gruber, and Co. mint makes the local news.
Death Valley Days
7. Newspaper headline
The newspaper headline reads:
Gruber and Clark Mint Own Coins
The coins are now ready for business and many appear in the coin trays at the bank office.
Death Valley Days
8. Martha stacks the coins
Many prop coins are used, possibly they are the same ones used in other "Death Valley Days" episodes.
At the mint office, Gruber is working at pressing out planchets or coin blanks.
Death Valley Days
9. Gruber pressing planchets
He is using a "Niagara" press.
A pair of United States Marshalls show up and arrest Clark and Gruber for counterfeiting.
The men are then put on trial at a federal court.
Death Valley Days
10. Gruber and Clark on trial
The prosecutor, George Fenner, gives his opening statement:
And we intend to prove that these two men, despite the fact that our nation is and was
at that time embroiled in a civil war which threatens our very dissolution,
did conspire to, and actually made, counterfeit coins, in the denomination of
two dollars and a half, five dollars, ten dollars and twenty dollars.
The defense attorney Richard Barton, using scales and a Philadelphia Mint metallurgist,
demonstrates that the Clark-Gruber coins weigh more than official US coins by five percent and are
gold and 10% copper, the same alloy used by official US coins.
Death Valley Days
11. Defense attorney Barton holds a coin
Clark and Gruber realize that they used their special five percent extra weights for the coins.
At a meeting, the defense attorney points out to the judge and prosecutor that there is no federal law
prohibiting the making of gold coins and the judge orders the charges dismissed.
Death Valley Days
12. Charges dismissed
The partners and their attorney celebrate and later receive a visitor.
Death Valley Days
13. The US Marshall has a request
The Marshall brings a letter from the US Treasury Department requesting the bank to stop
making coins and offering to buy the Clark-Gruber mint for $25,000.
Martha Clark suggests that the US Government use their minting equipment and establish an
official US mint in Denver as a branch of the Philadelphia mint.
Death Valley Days
14. The Old Ranger explains mintmarks
The United States government accepted their terms, and established the Denver Mint
on the spot previously owned by the banking firm of Clark, Gruber & Co.
As a matter of fact that Mint turns out 75% of all the coins made in America.
By the way, did you ever notice on the tail side of certain dimes, just to the left of the torch.
The little 'D'?
Well that shows it was made at the Denver Mint.
Formerly owned by Clark, Gruber & Co.
Stanley Andrews as the Old Ranger
John Lupton as Milton Clark
Jerry Paris as Emmanuel Gruber
Sue Randall as Martha Clark
Director: Tay Garnett
Writer: Richard Sanville
Prev Back Next