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G. I. Has the Last Laugh

From American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, June 1946

G. I. Has the Last Laugh

Pfc. Franz Schmidt, American-born German serving in Berlin, Germany, with the American army of occupation, was strolling in the suburbs, thinking perhaps of his fraulein. back in the States, when a little girl of perhaps ten stopped him.


"Mister, " she asked in modest German, "Would you like to buy some jewelry cheap in exchange for some American coffee and candy" The girl led him to a typical German stone hut so common in the suburbs. The girl's mother brought out a wide assortment of old-fashioned trinkets, a couple of cheap rings and three very old Swiss watches with thick cases.


Familiar as Franz was with watches, he asked the girl's mother what she wanted for them. The woman wanted merchandise in the amount of about ten dollars. This was all right with Franz. He later returned with the necessary supplies, that he had acquired at the Army Red Cross Canteen.


As he left the house he heard the girl's mother mention something about a 'Yank Dumpkoff," but he paid no attention until he got back to the barracks, where he investigated his purchases at length.
The first watch was devoid of any works, but the case was worth about $40 in platinum. The second watch had a few ruby jewels worth abont $10 each. He then examined the third watch. Somehow, it was a strange piece of workmanship. He studied it closer, then took it apart piecemeal. To his amazement the crown and shaft were composed largely of silver, while the movements were of platinum. His biggest surprise perhaps was a plate with German inscription. Tediously he removed the plate and embedded beneath, he found a flawless diamond almost a carat in size.


A Swiss jeweler later told him that the watch was over 100 years old, and it was common in those days for men to hide away such gems for a rainy day - but that rainy day happened to be Franz Schmidt's! 

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