112. GOLD SPECIMENS.

"What happened to Lasseter's property? There was his strong, steel, black dispatch box ~ it contained the seven gold specimens-".
Blakeley, Fred. Dream Millions.184.

 

It was the Earle story that jogged an irritating burr in the memory, someone else had written specifically about seven gold specimens; it turned out to be Blakeley at the end of 'Dream Millions' where he reviews events in Central Australia and muses on Lasseter's missing dispatch box and doctored gold specimens....amongst many other things! Could a dispatch box, whatever that may be, translate to a kit-bag or portmanteaux or treacle tin? And well may Blakeley ask the whereabouts of the specimens...he knows the answer, but keeps that a secret for the next 35 years.

No other chronicler or commentator who was directly involved in the Lasseter saga mentions Lasseter having any gold specimens to back his claims. (Hence the scarcity of first hand references) Coote, ever the journalist and in John Bailey's office when Lasseter first told his story to the Sydney Crowd, would have waxed lyrical had Lasseter produced the golden evidence. Bailey does not mention gold specimens in his 1947 monologue, Phillip Taylor's truncated diary and the Gepp Report have nothing to say and the Captain didn't bother to comment. The best that Idriess gives this important aspect of Lasseter's story are three brief lines, with the near perishing Lasseter still "clutching a bag of gold specimens" being rescued by an Afghan camel driver 33 years earlier. Perhaps most significantly Lasseter makes no mention anywhere to owning gold specimens, especially in his Diary where he buries a kit-bag with a map and a treacle tin with three rolls of film, but no gold specimens. And it would probably be a good idea not to produce any, as Idriess would be well aware, many geologists and miners pride themselves in being able to name the district down to the mine that a sample comes from, that could be embarrassing. Blakeley is the only contemporary who writes of Lasseter's gold specimens. Then again Blakeley writes of many strange things, Sandhill Gods, the Captains book on navigation...and Lasseter's non existent gold specimens.

I think there's an elusive lesson here on how to embed a furphy in history. Within months of Bob Buck's return from the Petermanns, the search was on for Lasseter's gold specimens, the change of focus from a vast gold reef to a comparatively miniscule clutch of well hidden specimens has never been explained. In due course, and always from under a camp fire, pickle jars and treacle tins were dug up with enough specimens to fill a wheelbarrow. It seems Coote was caught up in one of these scams and forayed to the Warburton Ranges in 1932, chasing rumours backed by Lasseter's gold specimens. Neville Harding was more blatant in 1950 when he dug up the lot, kit-bag, treacle tins, rolls of film and by inference of course, the specimens. And the suggestion that he had Lasseter's specimens financed a few comfortable adventures to the 'Centre.

By 1937 the frequently publicised race was on for the specimens, even Morley Cutlack was considering how he might profit from the well established rumour. So what about Blakeley? writing with a blunt pen and bruised ego some seven years after the farcical events in Central Australia. Knowing his manuscript will not be published until his death, hopefully many years hence, he simply took advantage of 'common knowledge' to denigrate Lasseter further.  Blakeley felt reasonably safe in having none gainsay the only first hand account of Lasseter's gold specimens and how he marked the stones in order to recognise them if used in a future gold scam. It suited Blakeley quite nicely that the doctored specimens that never existed were never found, "The simple reason is, I am convinced, because they were never lost"--as far as he was concerned further proof of Lasseter's perfidy, the specimens, securely locked in the black steel dispatch box had disappeared with the little blighter to America.

LASSETERIA

R.Ross. 1999-2006

Idriess, Ion. L. Lasseter's Last Ride.1. Blakeley, Fred. Dream Millions.105.106.184.