Northampton, Mass. Steam Press of Gazette Printing Company, 1876. First edition. Original pictorial wrappers, 8.75 x 5.75 inches, 24 pages. Illus., including a diagram of the cashier’s home. Some light wear and soiling, old light vertical crease to the text block; a very good copy. Item #19541
The definitive contemporary account of one the biggest bank robberies in U.S. history. The robbers—who according to witnesses referred to each other by numbers rather than by name as they worked—broke in late one night to the home of the bank cashier, then tied up his family and beat him until he gave them the combinations to the vaults; the gang then left the family tied up and waited for the night watchman to go off duty at 4:00 A.M. to break into the bank. (Though not noted here, the technician who had installed the vault locks had been a confederate of the gang and kept a copy of a critical key.) The gang robbed the bank of $12,000 in cash and $800,000 in bonds (the equivalent today to about $26 million) and scattered. Though the securities were eventually returned and three of the robbers ended up in prison, the mastermind behind the robbery (and in fact behind most of the big bank robberies in Gilded Age America) turned out to be a dapper and dissolute society architect in New York named William Leslie, who moonlighted as the leader of the Rufus Ring—a fact not discovered until after Leslie’s murder in 1878 at the hands of a fellow gang member. See the New England Historical society online summary for more detail on the robbery and the gang. The rear wrapper with ads for the Yale Time Lock, with a nice illustration of the lock, and the endorsement of the Northampton National Bank—the time lock installed since the robbery.