Original News Photo - Print. Pot O' Gold, Springfield,
Missouri. May 10, 1935.
Text pasted on back:
"Watch Your Credit. International Chicago
5-10-35 Pot O' Gold"
"Springfield, Mo. -- Boom Days of '49 had nothing
on activities which the latest chain letter craze loosed in Springfield when
the town attracted nation-wide attention by activity of citizens embroiled
in a mad scramble for quick, easy, money in a $5.00 per unit system on the
chain letter idea. Here speculators bought letters for $5.00 each and sold
two copies for $5.00 each, keeping one five. The scheme, which went big for
a time, failed for lack of buyers. Picture is of the front window of one of
the operating quarters, showing the hastily painted sign which attracted waiting
lines of 'customers'. " [remaining text torn off]
In this "pyramid scheme", whose key innovation is that one has to buy a
letter for $5, the buyer must also send $5 to the name at the top of the
list. When the two letters with a revised list are sold for $5 each, the
buyer has recouped his initial investment. See Springfield pyramid
scheme in the glossary. This procedure has become almost universal for
pyramid schemes, at various antes. It apparently originated in Springfield,
Missouri in May, 1935.
Black coloration has been applied to the photo within some of the letters
and partially outlining the two people on the left.
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