Nathan’s Little Flags

Posted by on August 21, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo for the Clients and Friends of Williams Marketing

Twice each day, Mocatta, Pixley, Montagu, Nathan, and “Yankee” meet at Nathan’s place on St. Swithin’s Lane in London. During these meetings, each of them will raise and lower little Union Jack flags until the glorious moment arrives when all five flags are down simultaneously. It is precisely at that moment that five obscure individuals, Mocatta, Pixley, Montagu, Nathan, and “Yankee,” will have established the worldwide price of gold.

The story begins with a man named Amschel, an insignificant collector of old coins who lived in the ghettos of Frankfurt, Germany during the late 1700s. Due to his specialized knowledge, Amschel soon became the official “seeker of old coins” for a wealthy and powerful coin collector, the Landgrave William IX of Hesse-Kassel.

In 1805, impressed with the financial insight of Amschel’s 28 year-old son, Nathan, William IX entrusts the young man with a large portion of his wealth. But rather than buying and selling old coins as his father had done, Nathan chooses to buy and sell gold bullion. One day, Nathan reports, “I know of only two men who really understand the true value of gold – an obscure clerk in the basement vault of the Banque de Paris, and one of the directors of the Bank of England. And unfortunately, they disagree! But don’t worry, sir, I have a plan.”

Soon Nathan is receiving advance information from France through a series of carefully arranged flag signals from across the English Channel. Since Nathan is receiving his information much faster than the other traders, he quickly amasses a staggering fortune. Seventeen years later, Francis I of Austria dubs Nathan a baron.

And that is why a representative from the Mocatta Group (a division of Standard Chartered Bank), Deutsche Bank Sharps Pixley, Montagu Precious Metals (part of Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp), and Republic National Bank of New York (The Yankee Bank,) meet twice each day to raise and lower little flags as they fix the worldwide price of gold. And at whose place do they meet on St. Swithin’s Lane in London? Why, the headquarters of the Baron Nathan Mayer de Rothschild, of course.

And though it sounds crazy, that’s exactly how the worldwide price of gold is established by five obscure individuals in London at 10:30 each morning and at 3:00 each afternoon, to this very day.

Roy H. Williams

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Roy’s newest books, (1.) The Wizard of Ads, 1998’s Business Book of the Year, and (2.) Secret Formulas of The Wizard of Ads, The 1999 Wall Street Journal and New York Times Bestseller, are now available in bookstores everywhere. Do you have your copies?

Chris Maddock

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