Business: Bonds of Gold

So claim modern prospectors

Gold prospecting ain't what it used to be. The old Forty-Niner went West to make a fortune all by himself. Today the new breed organizes, suits up in pinstripe, and tries to dig gold out of an obscure clause in 85-year-old bonds. This week the 300 members of the Gold Bondholders Protective Council plan to file a class-action suit in Anchorage, Alaska, that could force several companies and states to pay off $1 billion in long-term bond debt in gleaming gold.

After the Civil War, gold bonds were issued to entice inflation-wary investors. Some 1895 bonds promise to pay...

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