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York Employers Allows Workers to Keep Gold

I was researching something else on newspaper microfilm the other day, but with the current price of gold over $1,200 an ounce, the article below caught my eye. It is from the July 31, 1934 issue of the York Dispatch.
I would say the paper mill owners were very generous, and they probably didn’t have any trouble recruiting workers.


Employees of Paper Mills Reclaim Precious Metal During Spare Moments.

Employees of paper mills in York are adding to their incomes by reclamation of gold from the beating machinery. The machines are so constructed that all metal objects in rags or paper are dropped into pans as they run through the machines. From these pans the gold is reclaimed by the workers and sold to local buyers of old gold.
The employees work in their spare moments in reclaiming gold and it is a rule of the paper mill owners that ‘findin’s is keepin’s.’ But there was one instance in one of the mills, about a week ago, where that law did not apply. Owners of a local mill recently received from a manufacturer of gold watch cases a telegram informing them that by a mistake made in the shipping department of their factory a carton of valuable watch cases had been consigned to the waste paper shipped out. The mill owners were asked to have their employees make a careful search for the missing watch cases. This was done; the cases were found and shipped back to their owners.
On another occasion a leather wallet containing $1,400 in United States paper currency was reclaimed in rags in a York paper mill and returned to the owner in a city in New Jersey. The wallet had the name and address of the owner stamped on it. The finder was rewarded with a check mailed to him by the owner of the restored wallet.
The gold and silver coins, bits of gold jewelry and parts of gold watch cases found in the macerating machinery of the paper mills show that society is careless relative to valuables. In one week’s ‘pick-over’ in one of the paper mills lately an employee reclaimed old gold which he was able to sell to a buyer for $18.
Workers in the paper mills do not look across valleys and point to the ranges to declare: ‘Thar’s gold in them thar hills.’ Rather they can point to the bales coming into the mill and say: ‘Thar’s gold in them thar rags.'”

Remember, this was in the midst of the Great Depression. Fifty cents an hour seems to have been a decent wage in 1934. That means that reclaimed watch was worth nearly a week’s wages.
Click on the links before for gold prospecting the hard way.
1849 gold fever in York County.
Letters from the California gold fields.
Still looking for that California gold.