A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 17, 2011
“The price of gold is understood by exactly two people in the entire world—and they disagree”

A popular banking anecdote has Baron Rothschild saying that only two men in the entire world understand gold, money and the financial system. One man is a director of the Bank of England and the other is an obscure clerk in the Bank of France—and, unfortunately, they both disagree.

The putative Rothschild quote has been cited in print since 1965-1966; the names of the two individuals are not given in any version. Some versions have the “obscure clerk” working for the Bank of France, while others have him working for the Bank of England. Some versions have both men working for the Bank of England.


Google Books
Business Week
Issues 1870-1878
1965
Pg. 15:
There were, said Rothschild, only two people who really understood gold: one an obscure clerk in the Bank of France, the other a director of the Bank of England. “Unfortunately,” said Rothschild, “they disagree.”

26 June 1966, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Washington” by Walter Trohan, pg. A5:
V (Illegible—ed.) to the secretary of commerce quotes Baron Rothschild as saying that only two men in the world really understand gold and the balance of payments—one a director of the Bank of France and the other an obscure clerk in the Bank of England—and unfortunately they disagree.

Google News Archive
17 March 1968, Vicoria (TX) Advocate, “Shortage of Gold Brings Higher Short Term Interest Rates, Plus Inflation” by C. A. Talley, Jr., pg. 4A, col. 3:
The famous Baron Rothschild, financial genius of Europe, once remarked that there were only two men in the world who really understood gold.

One was the director of the Bank of England and the other was an obscure clerk in the Bank of France. “Unfortunately,” he declared, “they disagree.”

31 March 1968, New York (NY) Times, pg. SM32:
Money. Money Everywhere—
What’s the problem?

By EDWIN L. DALE Jr.
WASHINGTON.
SOME years ago in London the late Baron Rothschild was asked by a friend to explain the international financial system, gold, and so on. He replied, “My dear chap, there are only two men in the world who understand the international financial system—a young economist in the Treasury and a rather junior man in the Bank of England, Unfortunately, they disagree.”

Google Books
The Key Problems of Economic Reconstruction and Development in Nigeria
By John M. Letiche; Nigerian Institute of International Affairs.
Lagos: The Institute
1969
Pg. 10:
Which reminds me that Baron Rothschild once said that only two men in the world understood gold and the balance of payments—a director of the Bank of France and an obscure clerk in the Bank of England. “Unfortunately,” he added, “they disagree.”

26 September 1971, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, pg. 4Z, col. 2:
As Good as Copper?
Gold Outshines All

By Steve Harvey
LA Times/Washington Post Service
Baron Rothschild was once reported to have said that he knew of only two men who really understood gold—a director of the Bank of England and an obscure clerk in the Bank of France.

“Unfortunately,” he added, “they disagree.”

Google News Archive
1 September 1974, Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, “Buying Rush Likely As U.S. Raises Ban On Gold Ownership” (UPI), pg. 9A, col. 2:
The founder of the Rothschild banking dynasty once said only two people in the world understood gold—an obscure Bank of France clerk and a Bank of England director.

“Unfortunately,” Rothschild said, “they both disagree.”

Google Books
A Primer on Money, Banking, and Gold
By Peter L. Bernstein
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
2008
Pg. XXV:
Baron Rothschild was once heard to say that he knew of only two men who really understood gold — an obscure clerk in the Bank of France and one of the directors of the Bank of England. “Unfortunately,” he added, “they disagree.”

The Market Oracle
Why the Gold Price is So High?
Sep 16, 2011 - 12:46 PM
By: MISES (Robert P. Murphy, professor at the Mises Institute—ed.)
(...)
There’s an old joke that the price of gold is understood by exactly two people in the entire world. They both work for the Bank of England and they disagree.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Saturday, September 17, 2011 • Permalink