From Byrnes’s 1886 edition:
DESCRIPTION. Thirty-six years old in 1886. Born in United States. Married. No trade. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 7 3/4 inches. Weight, about 148 pounds. Dark hair, hazel eyes, light complexion. Generally wears sandy side-whiskers and mustache. High forehead. Looks somewhat like a Jew.
RECORD. “Paper Collar” Joe is a well known banco man. He formerly hailed from Philadelphia, but is well known in New York and other large cities. He is considered one of the smartest men in the banco business.
Bond was arrested in Philadelphia during the Centennial, and sentenced to one year in Cherry Hill prison on August 1, 1876, for plying his vocation on a stranger. He has been arrested time and time again, but like all the men in that line of business, is seldom punished.
He is credited with fleecing a man in Pennsylvania out of five thousand dollars in October, 1885, and at last accounts he had taken a trip to Europe. Joe’s picture was taken in August, 1876.
From Byrnes’s 1995 edition:
He has been running around the country lately swindling people by selling them cheap oil paintings, claiming them to be works of art. He is also in the “gold brick” business. His right name is Joe Groganskie, and his parents live in the vicinity of Niagara Falls, N.Y. Here is a very interesting account of a “gold brick” swindle, for which Joe Bond, alias Bird, and “Tibbits,” alias Edward Tuttle, were arrested at Farmington, Me., on September 1, 1892″
“BANCO STEERER. A PAIR OF CUNNING ROGUES. THE FAR-FAMED ‘GOLD BRICK’ SWINDLERS LOCKED UP IN YANKEEDOM. [Special to the ‘World.’] FARMINGTON, Me., Sept. 29.—The two famous “gold brick” swindlers, whose exploits have extended from one end of the country to the other, and have gained for them the reputation oi being the shrewdest swindiers in the world, are in prison here. At least the local authorities are so convinced.
“Before they were arrested one had registered at a hotel here as J. D. Bird, of Boston. From the flood of inquiring letters Sheriff Sylvester has received since then he has no doubt that this is the rogue known in different places as George Carter, George W. Post, Billy Harris, William E. Train, Charles Kely, George Stone, etc. Bird, or Bond, is about forty years old, 5 feet 8 inches high, and weighs 175 pounds. His complexion is light, with sandy hair and mustache; the top of his head is bald; his eyes are dark and bright, and he has a noticeable scar on his check under the left ear. He is a rapid talker, and has the appearance and address of a smart business man.
“The other prisoner registered at the same hotel as E. Tuttel, of Portland. He is, perhaps, fifty years old, about 5 feet 8 inches in height, and weighs 180 pounds. He has dark eyes, iron-gray hair and mustache; his face is pitted with small-pox, and he speaks in rather deep, guttural tones. It is believed that Tuttle, or Tibbits, has been wont to personate the mysterious Indian who has passed oftenest as “Ora Pochee,” an owner or one having knowledge of the whereabouts of a fabulously rich gold mine, which has been sold in installments to about half the rich but grasping and greedy skinfiints of the country.
“These two, if they really are the sharpers they are supposed to be, have played their game with many variations, but the way they roped in one of their latest victims will serve as an illustration of their methods. George Gore, of Dover, N.H., has a fine farm. He was approached by a man who had a gold brick to sell, and looking for some one who would pay cash down for the article, represented as worth $58,000, but because the owner was pressed for money he would take less. The sum was finally set at $6,500. The brick was taken to a professional assayer, who, rather oddly, happened to be in Dover at the time. The assayer reported the article to be Simon-pure gold, and the elated granger went to a bank, drew out $6,500 and paid it to the poor, hard-pressed, but honest and un fortunate owner. When Gore went to the bank to deposit his prize, it was found to be only a heavily-plated bit of base metal, worth at the outside, $25. But the farmer’s knowledge came too late; the birds had flown.
“Among those who have written here to inquire concerning these fellows, is Gabriel Warner, of Baiting Hollow, L.I. He was persuaded to invest $2,000 in a land speculation scheme with two well-dressed, smooth-tongued wayfarers who went to his place and proposed to buy his farm. They were in search of a lot of farms on Long Island, wanted none but the most fertile and the best cared for, and would make him a good offer. A price was agreed on at last, but the old Long Islander had displayed so much shrewdness, so much ability to sell his property for the highest price, that they thought it best to offer him a share in their scheme. An elaborate plan of speculation was unfolded. At length he consented to take $2,000 from the pair and invest it on account of the new firm. The two strangers were about to drive away, when it occurred to them that they ought to have some sort of pledge of good faith on Warner’s part. After some parley it was agreed that Warner should add $2,000 to their $2,000; that both sums should be sealed up together and placed in a box to be left in Warner’s keeping. Warner put in his $2,000, and the strangers went away. In a few days Warner thought he would peep into the package to see that the money was all right. So he broke the seal, and nearly lost his breath when he found that the package contained only a package of green sap circulars and two blue chips.
“Bird, alias Bond, once operated with a pal called Hennessey, now dead. They beat an old man living near Nashville, Tenn., out of $7,000 by the “bee” game, and Hennessey was arrested and sent to the State Penitentiary.
“Gabriel Warmer, of Baiting Hollow, L.I., referred to in the foregoing as having been swindled out of $2,000, is endeavoring to get hold of the sharpers. In his interest the Sheriff of Suffolk County is now in Albany to get requisition papers, and J.P. Terry, proprietor of a hotel in the neighboring town of Riverhead, has been summoned home from a visit in Canada to identify the prisoners, if he can, as having stopped at his hotel about the time Warner was victimized.”
The following clipping from a New York newspaper explains some of the methods used by the picture sharps:
“BUNCO IN PICTURE SELLING. WORTHLESS CANVASES PALMED OFF ON UNLEARNED COLLECTORS IN THE WEST. There is no other business, perhaps, which affords so much chance for misrepresentation and false pretense as picture dealing, unless it may be horse trading, three-card monte, or thimble rigging. The obvious moral of this remark is that unless a man is wise in the wares he seeks, and knows what is what, he should have care as to the repute and responsibility of a person who offers him a fine painting at a bargain.
“These remarks are not meant to reflect upon any established or respectable picture dealer, but merely to introduce a few instances of how some of the private galleries in the west, in such cities as Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit, for example, have come to contain among their boasted treasures either the shop-worn and discarded surplus of eastern shops, or the forged products of domestic manufacture. When “Paper-collar Joe” dons a white tie and shiny silk hat for his purpose and turns connoisseur, it is time for the tyro collector of paintings in Pittsburg or Milwaukee to be a little cautious. But the man who would promptly inquire into the pedigree and true quality of a diamond offered to him by a plausible stranger, would, experience teaches, just as promptly repress his natural suspicions in the presence of a lauded masterpiece by some vaunted painter whom no one ever heard of.
“It would appear that pride of collectorship makes some men who have had no opportunities of travel or study superhumanly gullible when it comes to buying paintings. They appear to be ashamed to have doubts or opinions of their own in the face of the swindler’s confident glorification of this splendid masterpiece by the celebrated Paletteknifeski. The western cities swarm with picture sharpers, who swindle confiding collectors and greatly injure the reputable dealers, because when their frauds are detected suspicion takes possession of the popular mind, and the genuine work of art finds no more sale than did the gold half eagle that the wag offered to sell on the street for ten cents without finding a purchaser. There are thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bogus pictures, or, if not wholly fraudulent, at least of paintings that have been sold for fabulous sums on entirely false representations.
“There is an instance well known to dealers of this town of the sale for many thousands of dollars to a woman in a western city of a Corot that was painted in New York. The swindling even goes as low as to cross the words fac-simile from certain imported prints in colors and palm them off as originals. A certain lawyer in Chicago, who thought he had a fancy for paintings, but was still greatly under the influence of such names in art as are conjured with, bought $1,000 worth of paintings from A. A. Sanchez of this city, then the agent of a well-known New York house. Among them were several American paintings and a Jacque of fine quality.
“The Jacque was one that for some reason had not sold readily in New York, and the dealer was willing to part with it for about $350, which was its real value. The lawyer took it, and a few hours later met Sanchez. ‘Sanchez, old boy,’ he exclaimed rapturously, ‘you were right, that was a fine Jacque you sold me. I hadn’t had it an hour when I sold it for a thousand dollars!’
“‘Get the cash?'”
“‘Well, no, but I got its equivalent,’ and then he proceeded to tell how he had met a slick dealer who wore a high hat and a short, square-cut coat, and a big diamond in his shirt front beneath his white evening dress tie. The slick stranger had pictures to sell, and he greatly admired Mr. Lawyer’s newly purchased Jacque. ‘Now, I’ll tell you what I’ll do,’ said the oily art sharp. ‘There’s that big painting I have by so and so,” (naming an unheard of painter), ‘you’ve liked that, and it’s a beauty. It’s worth $3,000 if it’s worth a dollar. But you want it, and a big painting is hard to sell. I‘ll let you have it for your Jacque, which is small, and $1,500 to boot.’ The lawyer was delighted with the proposition, and gave his good Jacque and his good money to boot for a daub that had been made in New York City.
“A similar instance occurred in Pittsburgh, where a well-known collector and would-be connoisseur was persuaded by one of these bunco steerers to trade a fine Berne-Bellecour, worth say $400, for a wretched copy of a Berne-Bellecour worth perhaps $2.50. A Meyer von Bremen, genuine, it is true, but not representative of the artist, went begging among the reputable dealers in New York at $900, and was finally sold by a sharper in Detroit for $6,000.
“All of the bad paintings that are hawked about in the West are not forgeries. But many of them are shopworn and unsalable canvases which have knocked about the New York shops, and which not over-scrupulous dealers are willing to sell at any price to get rid Of. Sharpers get them, and, going to interior towns, trade upon the name of the New York importer, whose stamp is upon the back of the picture, to impose upon the credulity of the rich and undiscriminating collectors, who seem still to believe implicitly in fairy stories. The bunco picture business has, in short, reached proportions inconceivable to any ordinarily well-informed New Yorker.”