King – Jewish in Patagonia

The last Jew to possess royal power and prerogative was probably Julius Popper who forged a small, short-lived kingdom in one of the most southerly zones of human habitation. Born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1857, the young Popper set off for South America in 1885 with the single-minded obsession of finding gold, and gold he found after organizing the Popper Expedition in 1886 that pushed eastwards and struck pay dirt in the gold rich sands of San Sebastian Bay in the land of Patagonia, a group of islands lying at the southernmost tip of South America and aptly known as El Fin del Mundo -the end of the world.

To keep local Indians, rival gold diggers, and thieves at arm’s length, Popper financed a private army that was powerful enough to defeat even a Chilean attempt to drive him from his territory, and also issued his own stamps and coins to emphasize his control over the region. Around the circumference of the coins is an alternative name for the region, Terra Del Fuego (Land of Fire), and in their middle is stamped “Popper” together with the emblem of his wealth, a crossed pick and shovel. This last Jewish kingdom came to an untimely end after a brief seven years, with Popper’s mysterious death in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the age of thirty-five.

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