Fort Knox, an Impregnable Monument to Security TheaterSubmitted by Neotheone on Wed, 10/17/2012 - 20:53
During the panic of 1792, the Bank of North America tried to stave off a run by having employees “carry its specie busily to and from the cellar in order to give a magnified notion of what it had,” historian Bray Hammond wrote. Bank managers “ostentatiously brought in deposits of gold and silver that had unostentatiously been carried out a little while before.”
The show of specie reassured jittery customers, saving the bank from failure. As a young clerk in Iowa during the panic of 1907, Hammond recalled employing exactly the same dodge: heaping impressively large sacks of low-value coin in plain view and ostentatiously counting it to give the impression of overflowing vaults.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt used a similar trick when he authorized the construction of the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.