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1 BIDWELL, George (d.1899). Forging His Chains. The Autobiography of George Bidwell, the famous ticket-of-leave man. Brought up a puritan – successful struggles against poverty – a merchant – his commercial misfortunes, temptations, and ultimate fall; his unexampled career in America and Europe; his trial and incarceration in English prisons fourteen years on a life sentence for "The $5,000,000 Forgery on the Bank of England."
New York and Hartford: Bidwell, 1890. 1890 Signed
8vo. 560 pp. Frontispiece port., 100 illustrations (incl. frontis. port.); light foxing last few pp; some leaves loose from chords, i.e., frontis., rear page(s) repaired with Kozo. Original blind and gilt-stamped half morocco over brown cloth with pictorial gilt-stamped front cover, a.e.g.; extremities rubbed, hinge with Kozo repair. AUTHOR INSCRIBED, "To T. Isbester Esq – With compliments of the author, George Bidwell, East Hartford Conn, May 18th 1890." Very good. SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. "Three clever but relatively inexperienced American swindlers undertook one of the most fantastic forgeries in British history, that of the Great Bank of England. By the time the three U.S. Con artists had determined to pool their resources to defraud European banks in 1872, each had already experienced limited success. The leader, 33-year-old George Bidwell, had been sentenced to two years imprisonment in July 1865 for defrauding grocers in Wheeling, West Virginia, with his partner, a man using the name Dr. S. Bolivar. Bidwell escaped before completing his sentence. His brother, 25-year-old Austin Bidwell, had cashed £13,000 in stolen U.S. Bonds in Europe in 1871, while Bostonian George MacDonnell had learned his criminal trade from the "Terror of Wall Street," master forger George Engel. However, none had undertaken a massive swindle until after their arrival in London in 1872. The trio's modus operandi was relatively simple. They would visit a bank where one of them would obtain a letter of credit while the others stole the bank's letterhead. These letterheads were used to forge additional letters of introduction, which were then submitted to European banks. … George Bidwell, after an aborted suicide attempt and near starvation, was released from Dartmoor Prison on July 18, 1887, because of poor health. Bidwell returned to the U.S., where he wrote his autobiography, Forging His Chains. He also made a living touring the country, lecturing on the evils of crime. His younger brother was released in 1892. Together they travelled to Butte, Montana, in March 1899, where Austin Bidwell died on March 7. George Bidwell died on March 25, 1899, found dead in the same bed where his brother had died only two weeks earlier." - From the George Bidwell, Austin Bidwell and George MacDonnell Case File webpage of the CRIMERACK website. PROVENACE: This copy of Bidwell was inscribed to Tunis Isbester, either the father or the son. Tunis Sr. (1849-1902) was a resident of Rochester, NY, until about 1887, when he moved to Evanston, IL; he worked as the Western Manager of the Westinghouse Air-Brake Company. His son, however, died tragically in 1892, in Chicago: The dead man is Tunis Isbester. Jr., whose breast was pierced by an exploding skyrocket. Those injured are David Noyes, foot badly hurt; Joseph Darry, shocked and rescued from drowning, he having jumped into the lake to escape the flying rockets. He had a narrow escape." - July 5, 1892, New York Times. See: History of Northwestern University and Evanston, edited by Robert Dickenson Sheppard, Harvey Bostwick Hurd, (1906), p.537. 
Price: 100.00 USD
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