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Al Capone's Gold Service

Al Capone's monogrammed Dirigold flatware/tableware circa 1928.
(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Fred Girton was a Denver born newspaperman / editor and publisher who went to Miami in 1926-1927. While there, he published two weekly newspapers called  'Miami Life' and 'Friday Night'. Girton decided to stay and lived in a series of places around Miami.
Girton was connected to Miami's social scene and in 1928, quickly got access to a new arrival by the name of Alphonse Capone. While Capone's name instilled fear to most Miami residents, many found him to be somewhat of a curiosity subject. Sort of like someone to be sought out and experienced for themselves. Many wanted to see if what all the press had printed about Capone was true. Girton also was intrigued, and soon became Capone's friend. As a matter of fact, he later became a conduit to Capone for those who wanted to meet the gang czar while in Miami. Many Miami business leaders courted Capone's home for handouts or just to enjoy Al Capone's hospitality at 93 Palm Avenue. It was the social 'in' thing to do!
Girton claimed under oath that he had visited Al Capone and had dinner there over a dozen times. On one of those visits, Girton who brought along two women with him, made it a point to jot down all that he saw while at Capone's home. At first, the two women were terrified just being there after what they had read about Capone in the newspapers. They thought him to be a boogeyman, a non remorseful killing machine. Girton assured them there was really nothing to fear.

117 piece Dirigold set belonging to Al Capone. Besides Al Capone's family and gangster entourage, this set was used often for dinners at 93 Palm avenue Miami when outside guests were invited. Famous and infamous ate at Capone dinners with this cutlery. Besides Miami's best socialites, a long list of other well known sat and ate at Al Capone's table. People such as boxer / manager Jack "Doc" Kearns, boxer William "Young" Stribling, reporter Walter Winchell, Chicago Tribune reporter Alfred Jake Lingle, playwright Damon Runyon, New York gangsters Frank Costello, Charles Luciano and Ciro Terranova. Chicago gangsters Jack McGurn, John Torrio, Frank Nitto, Eugene "Red" McLaughlin and his moll Mary "Kiss of death" Collins, Ray "Crane neck" Nugent, the Rago brothers from the Chicago funeral home and countless other notables.
(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Newspaper editor and publisher Fred Girton.
He was a world war 1 veteran and most notably, a friend of Al Capone.
(Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931, Mario Gomes Collection via courtesy of Casey Nanz)

Al Capone expose by Fred Girton, who was a guest many times at Capone's dinners on Palm Island.
(Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931, Mario Gomes Collection via courtesy of Casey Nanz)

Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931 had Fred Girton's account of what he experienced while attending a dinner at Al Capone's home.
The title makes reference to Al Capone's famous dirigold table service.
(Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931)

"C" Monogram for Capone

(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Another reference to the gold service set consisting of knives, forks and spoons.
(Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931)

Frank Daniel Newton
Born Francesco Nutini (Neuton) in Illinois. He later adopted the more American sounding Frankie Newton. Also known as "News" or "Newsy"
Frankie was an intriguing character and one that always peeked my curiosity. Former hotel bellboy, Fox Lake saloon keeper and later keeper of various Florida roadhouse Inns. While working at 93 Palm Avenue, he was fiercely loyal to the Capone family and even got into trouble when the detectives raided the Capone home. They were looking for fugitive Raymond "Crane neck" Nugent, but instead found Frankie, John Capone and a few friends. What got them in trouble was finding sacks of illegal alcohol. Al Capone was not home at the time. Poor Frankie was found guilty and fined $500 or 6 months jail time. Having nothing to do with said alcohol, he fought and stood his ground to finally overrule this judgement in September of 1932. Frankie was Capone's man Friday at Palm Island and listened to every order Capone gave him. One of his tasks was to count every piece of the above gold flatware after every Capone dinner event.
Frankie directed the dinner crew and was a hands on server himself. Capone would sometimes yell jokingly in front of guests "Frankie! Hurry up will you, or I'll cut your throat!"

Invited guests were often amazed by the whole dinner service used during Al Capone's meals. What especially caught their attention was the Dirigold flatware service.
(Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931)

Fred Girton and the two women watched with amusement that Frankie Newton, Capone's caretaker and waiter was counting all the goldware service to make sure it was all there after the dinner.
(Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931)

The girls accompanying Fred Girton enjoyed the meal at the Capone home and found Capone to be a real gracious host. Not at all what he was represented in the newspapers. To read about Capone's harrassment by Miami officials click here.
(Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931)

This invoice for October of 1928, shows an example Al Capone's expenditures for tableware.

(Photo courtesy of Margaret Regan)

 Engrave all flatware with the letter "C"
(Mario Gomes Collection)

This is undoubtly the place where Mae or Al had seen and purchased the Dirigold set to be used in their Miami home.
(Chicago Tribune 1928)

The display salon was situated in the former Railway Exchange building. At that specific time, Dirigold was made in Sweden, and then later in Kokomo, Indiana where they built a new factory.  Al Capone's set purchased in 1928 had been manufactured in Sweden. The ones made in the U.S. did not have the stamp SWEDEN on them.

(Flatware now part of the Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

The auction heard around the world!!!

This Dirigold flatware set was auctioned off at Witherell's auction house in Sacramento on October 8, 2021.
Al Capone's living granddaughters put the famous flatware set and other Al, Mae and Sonny Capone posessions up for bid.
This auction to say the least, was highly successful!
(Catalog from Witherell's auction house)

Dirigold flatware listing in Witherell's auction catalog.
(Catalog from Witherell's auction house)

Lot 107
Al and Mae Capone's Dirigold Sweden Flatware Service (117 pieces)
Al and Mae Capone's Dirigold flatware service, early 20th century, monogrammed "C", comprising:
1) 12 dinner forks
2) 12 salad forks
3) 12 cocktail forks
4) 12 soup spoons
5) 24 teaspoons
6) 1 sugar spoon
7) 6 table spoons
8) 1 serving fork
9) 1 pastry server
10) 12 dinner knives
11) 12 spreaders
12) 12 iced tea spoons

Al and Mae Capone's non monogrammed Dirigold flatware (61 pieces). These were purchased with the original set in case more than 12 people unexpectedly showed up for dinner at the Miami Capone household.

No monogram:
1) 1 gravy ladle
2) 1 oyster fork
3) 1 table spoon
4) 1 cork screw
5) 1 sugar tong
6) 5 small coasters
7) 1 covered butter dish (Dirilyte)
8) salt & pepper shakers (Dirilyte)
9) 1 pie server
10) 1 dinner knife
11) 6 spreaders
12) 6 fish forks
13) 6 seafood forks
14) 5 forks
15) 7 table spoons
16) 6 broth spoons
17) 5 salt spoons
18) 5 demitasse spoons
All Dirigold except # 7 and 8.
Provenance: Al and Mae Capone (Palm Island home) to Sonny Capone to his daughters

The non monogrammed pieces of the documented Al Capone owned flatware set.
The Mario Gomes Collection

Al Capone owned Dirigold tableware. Lot number 107 from Witherell's Al Capone estate auction.
Al Capone's granddaughter Barbara Capone's signature attesting to ownership.
(Flatware now part of the Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Dirigold spoon resting on Al's marker in Mt. Carmel cemetary.
(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Close up of flatware on Al's grave marker.
(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

The gold tableware service that was used at Al Capone's 93 Palm avenue home. It made the news, one such as the CBS Mornings show.
View the CBS video by clicking on screenshot.
(CBS Corp.)

All the way from California. The flatware made a special stop to visit Al Capone in Chicago's Hillside cemetary before making it's way home to me in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. My heartfelt thank-you to Margaret Regan, who helped me facilitate the purchase of this fine historical relic and safely getting it to it's final destination.
(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Some of the people surrounding Capone and who broke bread at his Miami home before going on a group jaunt to Cuba together. All received Capone's exquisite hospitality.
Top; Illinois State representative Albert J. Prignano, R.A. Gordon, former Georgia councilman and father of "Fritz", Al Capone and James Francis " Fritz" Gordon.
Bottom; Miami Dr. A.J. Bertram and Chicago American city editor Harry Read.
 Tropical Gardens Havana, Cuba April 29,1930.
Courtesy: The American Catholic Historical Research Center and University Archives (ACUA), The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

(Miami Herald May 18,1930)

May 17, 1930, Over fifty youngsters are alongside tables filled with fried chicken, cake and ice cream at 93 Palm Avenue.

The piece de resistance was the inviting gargantuan pool that was to spell fun for all the kids who swam in it!
Poor Sonny Capone had to be careful not to get completely immersed in it due to his ear condition.

May 28, 1930, Al Capone hosted a proper party for over 50 prominent people in Miami and served them spaghetti, steak and ginger ale. Upon entering the guests exchanged their invitations for an American flag lapel pins. The guests were delighted by a musical ensemble with operatic arias.  Capone was presented with a pen from Miami business leaders.

The Miami Community chest sends back Capone his 1929 donation of $1,000.
Members on the board refuse to have anything to do with a well known gangster.

A past party he hosted on March 8,1929, turned out to be very troublesome for him in the newspapers. There was talk that some champagne was served which at the time was illegal. The authorities had tried to make a big thing out of it  even as far as trying padlock Capone's home for these violations. During that party Capone pledged a donation to the Miami Tourist board. This gift created an outrage with the public which in turn forced some directors of the board to quit. The Capone donation was withdrawn and returned. The funny part was that the Miami business leaders are the ones who came to Capone for the donation via his lawyer Vincent Giblin. Miami department store owner R.B. Burdine is the one who sought Capone for a donation.

Roddey Bell Burdine dept. store owner that went to Capone's home for dinner and a hand out for the Community Chest.

From Sacramento to Chicago, the flatware will then make it's final destination to Montreal, Canada.
(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Al Capone's granddaughter Diane Patricia Capone and CBS reporter Lee Cowan taking a look at the gold service (Dirigold) Al Capone used for his sumptuous dinners on Palm Island. View the CBS video by clicking on screenshot.
(CBS Corp.)

'C' monogrammed gold forks, knives and spoons. The set also comprised of a butter dish, soup ladle, sea food forks, coasters, pie server, salt and pepper shakers. Over 117 items all made of Dirigold.
These items adorned Al Capone's dinner table when receiving guests. And what guests they were!! The guests ranged from Miami's top socialites, boxers, newspapermen, to Chicago and New York's top gangsters. All of them ate with these utensils.
(Flatware now part of the Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Screenshot taken from a 1929 Al Capone filmed home movie at 93 Palm Avenue. Al Capone is holding the camera. Here we can see two guests boating on Biscayne bay. There is no doubt that Frank Costello and Charles "Lucky" Luciano ate at Al's Capone's house afterwards. He probably took out the gold service to impress his New York counterparts. Capone's other gangsters and friends that also ate and stayed at the Miami home include, Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn, Ray "Crane Neck" Nugent, Eugene "Red" McLaughlin, Mary "Kiss of Death" Collins and Nick "Nicky Dean" Circella and Albert J. Prignano amongst others.

Slain Chicago Tribune reporter Alfred "Jake" Lingle once was a dinner guest at Al's Miami home in 1929 just before Capone spent a year in Philadelphia. Lingle was later slain by the Moran/ Zuta/ Aiello faction after he and Capone had a falling out.

December 21,1933, the Treasury Dept of the IRS, headed by Frank Wilson, released a report on Al Capone.
Page 43 entry shows that Girton had been over to Al Capone's house often for drinks and meals. He also mentions the gold dinner service used for those meals.

What is Dirigold???

1928 ad in the Chicago Tribune. Al and Mae Capone acquired their Dirigold tableware set at around this time.
Customers could visit the display salon or have a representative come to their home to be shown various sets suited for their home.
For an extra fee, they could have a monogram engraved on the handles of the flatware.

In fact, the first original Dirigold had a light dusting of gold (2%).  It made it's first appearances in 1914. Special experimental items were made from this new alloy, such as a presentation bat to a baseball player. Other special presentation items that were made from Dirigold included belt buckles, bracelets etc... It was mainly bronze with copper and later combined with other alloys such as aluminium. In 1915, newspapers were selling spoons made of Dirigold to the public.
In 1924, Dirigold had a sort of revival st the State fair.
It was originally made in Sweden. When Swedish inventor Carl Molin brought some to the world's fair in the U.S. it was such a hit that the demand was such that it necessitated production be done in the U.S. They first started off in Minneapolis, but then built a factory in Kokomo, Indiana.

Al Capone's dirigold was made in Sweden because it has the Sweden stamp on it. Dirigold without the Sweden stamp was made in the U.S.

In 1938, the federal trade commission handed down a verdict that the company had to change it's name due to false representation. The fact that Dirigold had little to no gold in it made it that the name had to be changed. The new name of Dirilyte was chosen. The composition of the metal had now also changed and some were protcted by a lacquer to prevent tarnishing. The company stopped producing their flatware in 1986.
(The Kokomo Tribune August 23, 1938)

(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

Movers from John E. Withers Transfer and Storage Co. wait to seize Capone's furniture at 93 Palm Avenue on June 7, 1931. Capone's lawyer Vincent Giblin was angry with Al Capone for ignoring his demand for payment of services. Giblin had saved Capone's hide from being harrassed by police on many occasions. He was Capone's saviour on countless arrests in Miami and avoided Capone being expulsed by city officials. This lead to a trial in which Capone won his day in court and was to be left alone by authorities whenever in Miami. To get his money, his lawyer placed a liens on Capone's property and had all the contents seized by the courts. Al Capone was frantically called on the phone by his trusted home caretaker Frankie Newton when the movers where in action of removing items from the home. Frankie started to flip when the movers were carting his single bed! On the phone, Capone pleaded with movers that the house and items were his wife's property and not his. Nonetheless, Capone paid up and all the items were quickly returned to him, including the gold flatware displayed on this page. Fun fact: The movers in 1931 were named Withers, and the Capone auction in 2021 was held by Witherell's
(The Miami Daily News)

The telephone Frankie Newton frantically called Al  Capone with when the movers started carting away Al's possessions.

(Flatware now part of the Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

When Al Capone defualted on a $50,000 payment to one of his lawyers, the lawyer had Al Capone's household items seized by the courts. June 7- 8 1931, an inventory was taken, and the gold tableware is mentioned.
(Miami Herald June 8, 1931)

So what happened to two of the major players connected to this famous flatware service?

Frankie Newton
 Capone's man Friday on Palm Island.
He carefully babied this flatware set by making sure that every item was counted before guests left.

Frankie Newton will be killed in the massive hurricane that hit Florida in 1935. He was 58 years old. His body was never recovered and is presumed washed out to sea.
(Miami News September 6, 1935)

Fred Girton
Newspaper editor, and once Capone's close friend that partook in many dinners at Capone's Miami home. Girton even went on pleasure jaunts to Bimini with Capone and Phil D'Andrea with all the expenses paid by Capone.
Girton would later testify in Capone's June 1930 padlock case against his Miami home.
On May 29,1931, Girton will make a sworn statement as to Capone's lavish lifestyle to the prosecution in Al Capone's Chicago tax trial. It became known as Exhibit no: 111. He is subpoenaed, but will not end up appearing on the stand during the Capone trial.

Fred Girton
(Startling Dectective magazine for September 1931)

Subpoena issued to Fred Girton in the Capone Chicago tax trial.
(National Archives)

Colorado born Fred Girton was a World War 1 veteran. He moved to Washington in 1943, to take the job of information specialist with the Coodinator of Inter- American Affairs and was the overseas representative in the branch of the Office of War information. He will pass away in 1964.

 His final resting place is in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.
( Photo credit Anne W)

Vincent Giblin

Once Capone lawyer Vincent Giblin
(Miami News 1946)

Former Capone Miami lawyer and later judge. Worked together with Capone's other Miami lawyer James Fritz Gordon. Giblin successfully got Al Capone off on several arrests and in finally getting Miami authorities off his back during his 1930 Miami home padlock trial. Capone was harrassed by police so often that Giblin said that he walked around with writs in his coat pocket in order to get Capone out of jail at a moments notice. Giblin was with Capone when he arrested at a 1930 fighting event.
Giblin's relationship with Capone was not without grief. Capone did not promptly pay Vincent Giblin his $50,000 accumulated lawyer fees. Giblin did not mess around. After warning Capone many times, he had the sheriff with movers on hand, seize Capone's belongings from 93 Palm Avenue. One of the items seized was the famous Dirigold flatware.
Capone house guardian Frankie Newton frantically called Capone who immediately paid Giblin and everything was returned to the Capone house promptly. Giblin said he disliked Capone, but as a matter of principal he had to defend him when he saw that Capone's rights were being infringed upon by overzealous law officials.
Giblin will never again defend Al Capone, and will become a judge in his later years before succumbing to cancer on March 20,1965. He is entombed at the Woodlawn Cemetary Mausoleum.

Al Capone's flatware surrounds a signed book from his granddaughter.
(Flatware Mario Gomes Collection. Photography copyright Margaret Regan)

The Long Journey
 This Tireless Search Has Now Finally Come To An End!

This flatware was sought out by me for many years. I had heard about it, then I read about it. Years have passed by. It was beginning to sound like a legend! Bigfoot, Loch Ness, and now, Al Capone's Dirigold flatware! One of Mae Capone's relatives, a dear friend of mine since 2003, kindly offered to give me a Capone silver monogrammed flatware set, but then realized it was given previously to someone else. She still was so kind in giving me a monogrammed spoon and a butter knife that Mae had given to her sister Agnes. Once given to her sister, the monogrammed 'C' for Capone would now also work out nicely for Agnes's married name, which turned out to be Clark!

After a few years, I got to know two of Al Capone's granddaughters. I had known one of the granddaughter's sons since 2006, when he contacted me out of the blue. I knew him way before one of the granddaughters, which I came to know only around 2016-17. All beautiful and wonderful human beings! So 14 years had passed since my first contact with the granddaughter's son, that I now had gathered enough courage to ask my new and dear friend Diane Capone if the family had anything of Al's they could sell me outright. The short answer was a polite no, we are keeping what we have. About year passes, and in July 2021, I learn from a friend that the granddaughters are now auctioning 174 lots through a Sacramento auction house. I'm totally astounded! This is the biggest Al Capone auction in my 34 years at this! Bigger than the 1992 Leslie Hindman held in Chicago!

Finally on August 23, the online catalog is revealed.
My eyes did a double take! There is the holy grail I had read about so many moons ago! The Al Capone monogrammed Dirigold flatware used on Palm Island to serve food to various famous and infamous guests! I figured after that many years, what's two more months of waiting? I knew there would be fierce bidding on this! Why? Because it's Al Capone's granddaughters, and it's the best Capone provenance that you will ever get!

Witherell's had registered 1000 potential bidders worldwide!! It made worldwide news!!! Their platform held up the best it could under the onslaught of viewers and bidders! There were even bidders from other third party online auction sites. The best bet was staying on Witherell's site. I was starting to doubt myself winning this thing! I was now playing with the big boys for big stakes. Sure, I had bid big before, but this was something else! Now we had museums, millionaires and many other world countries in the mix. The strategy I adopted was dump my biggest amount immediately and pray for the best! Why you may ask? It's because many suggested to wait at the last second. Last second doesn't fly for me! I was once taught a valuable lesson when I waited six days for an auction to end, and at the very last second was going to bid big! Guess what happened?? My internet crashed!!! I lost out! Not this time! Not with this item!! At the beginning of the Witherell's auction, I tried a test bid on any given item! I could see potential problems as the time circle kept spinning and not registering my bid! Waiting last second would not apply for this auction! I immediately contacted my trustworthy Chicago agent Margaret Regan and told her of my dilemma! She had also registered and without blinking an eye put my high bid immediately. The bid registered and we waited in anticipation! Lot 107 finally appeared and soon all the stress would be gone! This was my last hoorah in the Capone collecting world! I was hoping for it to end on a positive note!  As I watched the bidding go higher and higher, my wine bottle went lower and lower!
Finally, the bidding closed and I ended my Capone collecting career victorious!!

Maybe, the reality is that I won the high bid through the kindness of Margaret Regan, and mostly due to Witherell's glitchy site!
Through all these years, I've won many and I lost many! For this last item, and for whatever reason I got it, it's been a great 34 years nonetheless!! What a ride!!

Information research by Mario Gomes. My special thank-you to the outstanding Margaret Regan for her positive and unwaivering efforts in getting this item safely to me for my collection. Most photos seen on this page are copyrighted to Margaret Regan and permission for use must be requested from her.
My thanks to Witherell's for hosting the biggest and most interesting Al Capone auction of all time! To my friend Joe! A great guy who is also Al Capone's great grandson.
And of course, a heartfelt thank-you to Sonny's Angels, Barbara (Babs), Diane (Pat) and Theresa (Terri), the three Capone girls who gave this opportunity to me, and to Margaret Regan, who helped in turning it all into a reality!