The Jim Fisk Cloverleaf
Among Josephine Morlacchi’s many admirers was Jim Fisk, New York robber baron and business partner of Jay Gould. Fisk—who owned the Grand Opera House, where Josephine was performing—earned his riches as a stockbroker after a rocky start in life. At the age of fifteen, he ran away from home to join a circus before becoming a waiter, a shoe peddler, and eventually a salesman in Boston. During the Civil War, he sourced cotton smuggled from the South to fulfill his textile contract with the federal government. His attempt, with Gould, to corner the market on gold would result in the famous Black Friday market scare of 1869.
As Morlacchi waited backstage at the theater one evening, Fisk walked into the room and placed a diamond ring on her finger. Without time to respond, she was rushed to the stage to dance. Returning to her room after the show, she found Fisk waiting. She removed the ring from her finger and handed it back to Fisk.
“My dear young lady, it’s real,” he promised. “I don’t think you quite understand the value of that little stone. It’s of the first order and worth at least $5,000!”
Josephine shrugged and showed Mr. Fisk the door. “Bah! I can make that with one of my toes.”
As he left the theatre, Fisk commented to an associate, “There is a good woman that a bad man could fight for.” Bad man Fisk was eventually murdered after a failed extortion attempt by a business associate who had fallen in love with Fisk’s mistress. The gun used to kill Fisk is up for auction at the end of the month.
THE ORIGINAL JIM FISK CLOVERLEAF, USED BY STOKES TO KILL "DIAMOND JIM" FISK, and the reason that the Colt House Model became known as the "Fisk Cloverleaf." "Diamond Jim" Fisk, or "Jubilee Jim," was one of the most famous, and infamous, "robber barons" of the Gilded Age. Most famously, he and Jay Gould attempted to corner the gold market in 1869, leading to the first "Black Friday" in September 1869 as the financial markets collapsed after President Grant released $4 million in government gold into the markets.
However, Fisk's business exploits would soon be overshadowed by his personal life. In 1867, he began a relationship with Josie Mansfield, a voluptuous beauty who had up until then led a hard life. Fisk gave her money and bought her a four-story brownstone on West 24th St in New York. In 1869, Fisk befriended Edward Stokes, went into business with him, and on New Year's Day, 1870, introduced Mansfield to Stokes. Stokes and Mansfield soon began an affair, leading to a contentious love triangle and legal battles both personal and in their businesses. When Stokes tried to extort Fisk for $200,000, threatening to release the love letters of Fisk & Mansfield to the press, Fisk refused to pay. As the tension mounted, and Fisk threatened to expose the blackmail, Stokes snapped. On January 6, 1872, Stokes waited for Fisk at the Grand Central Hotel. As Fisk entered through the Ladies' entrance, as he always did, Stokes descended from the second floor, shooting Fisk twice with this Colt House Model.
An historic gun, commemorating one of the great scandals of the Gilded Age, as well as the origin of the classic Jim Fisk Cloverleaf.