Mark Twain is thought to have said, “A gold mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing on top of it.”

That attribution is unconfirmed and possibly itself a fib.

Twain did say in “Roughing It,” based on his personal experience of silver mining in Virginia City, Nevada: “You could … get your stock printed, and with nothing whatever to prove that your mine was worth a straw, you could put your stock on the market and sell out for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. … If the rock was moderately promising, we followed the custom of the country, used strong adjectives, and frothed at the mouth as if a very marvel in silver discoveries had transpired.”


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