Between 1849 and 1853 shares in nearly 120 public companies to exploit the booming goldfields of California and Australia were offered to the British public. The companies were collectively capitalised at over Â£15 million, but in the end only some Â£1.75 million was actually raised between 42 of them, with only one company surviving what the newspapers of the day described as a ’gold bubble’. This book provides an overview of the entire bubble event, its antecedents and its outcomes. A number of researchers have investigated an earlier boom in the mid-1820s to reopen gold and silver mines in Latin America and several have studied individual company operations of that period. This is the first detailed investigation of the British gold bubble companies of the 1850s and their involvement in the almost simultaneous gold rushes on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
After a career in geology, the latter part researching old gold mines as pathfinders to new deposits, John Woodland turned to writing about them, in particular the disastrous phase of British company gold mining in the 1850s, the reasons behind its almost universal failure, and what lessons were learned.
'Money Pits is well written and generally easy to read... is well illustrated with locality maps, images of key personalities and share certificates for some of the more interesting gold bubble companies, as well as copies of 15 satirical sketches from an anonymous pamphlet of the time... Money Pits makes a major contribution to understanding the ’gold bubble’ event and the companies involved, and is particularly important given that historical accounts of these gold rushes have been dominated by the story of the independent diggers, with little attention to company mining. Historians with an interest in the gold rush era or mining corporation history, mining history buffs and geologists will find it an interesting and useful reference text.' International Commission on the History of the Geological Sciences