The gold world has been ablaze for the last few weeks with a sensational story from fifteen years ago that the US government allegedly manufactured/bought some 1.3 to 1.5 million 400 oz, gold-plated, tungsten bars. Some 640,000 of these bars were allegedly stored at Fort Knox, and the balance was sold/shipped to central banks/other parties around the world.
This story took off and eventually reached national TV at CNBC. The Internet is now alive with reports about it and even www.goldseek.com had a special question and answer session on Nov 25, 2009 which addressed the report on "Does the U.S. have a Secret Gold Stash?" Goldseek.com offered no conclusions on the report or its truthfulness; but used the word "if" at least twice to address the story (i.e. if tungsten filled bars are indeed circulating, and if true). Moreover, there have been at least two websites which have discussed this issue at some length (kirbyanalytics.com and goldenjackass.com).
While I fully know and understand that our government lies to us and would without hesitation undertake such a patently dishonest act of deception and fraud, and while I have come to realize that almost anything is possible in today's warped culture and civilization; I did have some reservations about the story.
I put the report in the context of a rumor (as indeed happened by numerous other reporters who also called the story a rumor). For my part, even the alleged reports of some such bars being found in Hong Kong must be put in the vein of being a rumor. I know of no proof on any of this. Immediately, a reader at www.analysis-news.com fired back to me about how bad I was and that the story was based on fact and not rumor. This backdrop brings on this presentation.
How Can we Distinguish between conclusive real Fact versus possible Fact
In the real world, we often tend to accept things we want to believe as true and factual when they may not be true and factual at all. Of course, most of us, carnal and in the flesh, want to believe that our opinions and guess works are facts and not opinion and guesswork. If others want to question us, we tend to get mad and become indignant.
In my early years, I remember the popularity of describing the moon as being made out of cheese. Well, I suppose in history some would argue that the moon did look somewhat like a block of cheese. But even when people would laugh and make that claim, I'm sure few persons would have dared to say that it was true.
In my case, I have tried to take a more prudent stance on a lot of stuff by simply saying I don't know. On the moon, I would note that I have never been there and cannot factually say what it is made of. In terms of guesswork, and even with some so-called evidence, man supposedly has went to the moon some years ago and found it to be a rocky barren waste with no presence of cheese. But even this allegation has to be open to question because our government is notorious about lying to us. For example, the Apollo moon missions were so limited that they never established whether water was on the moon or not. Thus, we spent billions more to send up a spacecraft and bomb the moon this past year to supposedly find water.
By the way, there is an ascertainable body of people out there who dispute the alleged man on the moon story. For my part, I will say I don't know. I do know that some intelligent and honest people dispute the story; and some even note that some or all of the pictures of the man on the moon were made here on earth and disseminated to the public for deception purposes (one story is that there was fear that something could go wrong, so they had the backup pictures on hand to disseminate to the public).
What I Found
So, when a reader at www.analysis-news.com wrote me in a very critical manner to claim how wrong I was for using the word rumor, when the tungsten story was based on fact, I had to respond. And that's what has precipitated this article.
In going back and reading the various Internet reports on the tungsten story, I failed to find any verifiable facts about it (meaning it may or may not be true). I found numerous claims and statements that this or that happened. But I did not find any provable evidence that this or that happened. I'm not saying here that the report was true or false. I'm only saying that I found no verifiable facts or proofs of anything on it to prove it one way or the other.
I did another little check. I ran some Internet searches to determine the properties of tungsten versus gold. I found that the two metals are very similar and that it was plausible to use gold plating around tungsten bars. In fact, there were articles on this course a year ago on the net. For example, at least by Mar 17, 2008, boingboing.net had a story from PopSci about the feasibility of using gold plated tungsten bars to fake gold.
Other stories surfaced showing that indeed actual manufacturers were busy making gold plated tungsten wiring, antennas, jewelry, etc. One of these, in China, at China Tungsten Online (Xiamen) Manu & Sales Corp, had quite an Internet spread which suggested that the Chinese government had either closed down the Internet coverage or the business for alleged fear that it could bring bad publicity to China.
As far as the properties of tungsten versus gold, they are similar. But there are important differences, per the Ron Paul blog at dailypaul.com. In coins, there is a difference in the ring. The speed of sound thru tungsten is different from that with gold (as is detectible with a cheap ultrasound scanner). Tungsten is very hard and brittle (with a higher melting point) while gold is soft and pliable (on a hardness scale, it is alleged that talc at 1 means gold at 2.5, tungsten at 7.5 and diamonds at 10.0).
The atomic weight of gold is said to be 196.96 versus 183.86 for tungsten. Gold allegedly has a specific gravity of 19.32 and tungsten of 19.25. Precision measuring and weighing devices (which are now available all over the world) could measure a bar and easily calculate its exact volume and weight for either gold or for tungsten. These devices would immediately detect tungsten bars in contrast to gold bars.
A Visit to the Old Columbo TV Series
Back in the 1970s, there was an extremely popular TV series on the mythological Columbo (played by actor Peter Falk), a stumbling, confused, bumbling sort of fellow who was an expert homicide detective for the Los Angeles Police Department. While he personally conveyed the image of incompetence, he was an outstanding detective who could not be fooled by the murderers.
In one episode, he was dealing with a burglar who had allegedly stolen some jewelry at a house and killed the woman resident. In his research, Columbo found that the jewelry was possibly fraudulent. So he took some of it and went to a professional jeweler where he showed it to the jeweler and asked if it was a fake. To paraphrase the jeweler -- yes, I can see it is a fake. In the story, the jeweler never even had to handle it to see at once that it was counterfeit. Columbo then took one of the fake rings to a local hood specializing in burglary. He showed the ring to the thief and asked him for his opinion. The crook took out a magnifying glass, examined the ring and said it's a fake.
In the history of coins and money, there have been many efforts of governments to manipulate coins and cheat people. It is not unusual that the US has tried using good metals to plate cheaper metals. And, it is entirely plausible to use gold to plate tungsten. But one trick learned long ago by people in the real world is to bite on the alleged gold coin to see whether it is really good gold or not. Gold is soft while tungsten is much harder.
The Museum of Hoaxes had an article on "How to Make Fake Gold Bars" which cited an event that happened in recent years. Per the story, the National Bank of Ethiopia took some steel bars and plated them with gold and shipped/sold them to South Africa. The Bank/Central Bank in South Africa immediately sent them back to Ethiopia as being bad.
The point of this is that while laypeople and the average Joe on the street lack the expertise and ability to distinguish fraudulent material (like gold plated tungsten bars), the experts in the business world would never be so easily deceived and mislead. Jewelers, assayers, bank personnel, and various engineers and manufactures would almost never be taken in by such a deceptive act.
I think it would be routine for banks (particularly central banks) to immediately check incoming gold bars by weight and volume by sophisticated measuring devices. If they were tungsten filled, they would be immediately detected. I think any buyer of gold bars would want some independent verification of their authenticity if purchased. I cannot imagine people accepting gold bars without doing something to check them.
Back in 1941, just as the Rothschild planned WWII was getting underway, Warner Brothers had a movie out with Humphrey Bogart on the Maltese Falcon which was a statuette of a bird made of pure gold and covered with a black enamel or paint. This falcon ended up in the hands of Sydney Greenstreet who had spent years trying to possess it. The day he got it, he put it on a table. He then took a knife and scrapped off some of the paint covering to supposedly see the gold bird. But it wasn't gold. It was lead.
I will allow that on a rare, fluke occasion it might be possible to palm off a fake, gold-plated, tungsten bar on an unsuspecting buyer or even a bank. But I can't believe that this will happen on many occasions and particularly not with professional gold people (maybe once in a blue moon). Most buyers on gaining possession of a gold bar will immediately check it out just as South Africa did with the fake bars from Ethiopia. Thus, could the US have sold/sent a million gold plated tungsten bars to central banks around the world? It's very unlikely!
One More Issue
There is a final aspect on this presentation. What would be the purpose of a government, even one as dishonest as the US government, in making or buying 1.3 to 1.5 million such bars? If she tried to sell them or use them in monetary exchange operations, she would immediately get caught and have to redeem them with true gold and suffer much bad publicity. She certainly could not sell them to jewelers or professional gold dealers who immediately would spot the fraud.
As far as using such bars for monetary reserve purposes, in stored vaults, this too doesn't make any sense. The American people are so duped and lied to that the US Treasury doesn't have to do anything to prove that the alleged US gold is there or not. Americans believe the lies and never question them. The American people are in no position to question, examine or even look at the alleged US gold supply. The vaults in Fort Knox could be bone-dry empty and no one will or can know the deference. In fact, it is plausible that the Fort Knox vaults are indeed empty (as I allow in the Goldsmiths 17, 85 and 111).
So, why would corrupt government officials, like in the US, even bother with manufacturing or buying fake gold bars which cannot serve any purpose at all, and store them in secret in vaults at Fort Knox? The bars could never be sold or traded for fear that the fraud would be detected and made public. As far as the people, we don't matter. So the issue is entirely academic.
In the case of Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe, Bob might want to use some gold plated fake tungsten bars to show his people (who would accept whatever Bob says). But that's all he could do is show them off. Any professional gold person could examine them and quickly ascertain them to be fakes. Even a crook like Bob Mugabe would have to be very, very careful if he tried to use fake gold bars for any purpose which reached informed people.
By the way, this mention of Robert Mugabe needs another remark. Some time ago, I was told that Bob is called Wailing Bob by the people of Zimbabwe because he travels around the country in his car with a loud siren going full blast (and accompanied by a vehicle loaded with soldiers).