When Everybody Is Digging for Gold, It’s Good To Be in the Pick and Shovel Business
Mark Twain? Walter Powell? Collis Huntington? Mark Hopkins? Jim Winder? Gavin Dobson? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: During the 1800s the discovery of gold in a locale triggered a frenetic scramble of miners who dreamed of great fortunes. Unfortunately, mining led to disappointment for most miners. Here are two versions of a pertinent adage:
- Don’t dig for gold, sell shovels.
- The secret to getting rich in a gold rush is selling picks.
This observation has been attributed to the famous humorist Mark Twain, but I have been unable to find a solid citation. What do you think?
Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence supporting the ascription to Mark Twain. He died in 1910, and he received credit many decades later in 1982.