The Fool / Real Life

  • Timothy Dexter. A man who was completely uneducated, he managed to make a fortune by making a series of horrible business decisions that, due to sheer luck, turned out to be extremely profitable. The man made the stupidest decisions possible (including a number suggested by hated enemies) and every one of them came out as a profit. Some examples:
    • Stocking up on Continental dollars during the Revolutionary War. None of the people who made the suggestion ever gave thought to the possibility that the colonies would win...which they did.
    • He'd also bought lots of British pounds and French currency, which also became valuable once trading resumed after the American Revolution.
    • On marrying a wealthy widow, he decided to play the stock market. By picking stocks at random. They all went up.
    • Selling the strangest things to the Caribbean:
      • Bed warming pans, which you don't need in the tropics. But the warming pans turned out to be great molasses ladles. (It was said, though, Dexter had a captain who watched out for him, and made the trade to the booming molasses industry.)
      • Stray cats. But it turned out the Caribbean was having a rat problem.
      • Mittens. But traders there bound for Siberia took them off his hands.
    • He sent Bibles to the East Indies, a not-exactly-Christian area. Except there were missionaries over there at the same time, eager to use the bibles to spread Christianity in the area.
    • Sending coal to Newcastle, the feat he's often known for. As in a place built on the coal-mining industry (thus the phrase "Coals to Newcastle" meaning "giving them something they have too much of already"). What happened just before it got there? The coal miners went on strike in the dead of winter, so everyone bought his coal at a premium.
    • Stocking up warehouses full of whale bones. Then someone discovered that whalebone made an ideal reinforcing material for corsets. He sold clean out.
    • He wrote a book about himself, with capitals sprinkled about at random, and no punctuation anywhere in the main text (starting with the second edition, it DID have a page of punctuation marks at the end, suggesting the readers "solt and peper it as they plese", as literal as Punctuation Shaker can get). In a case of So Bad, It's Good meets Bile Fascination, it sold well.
      • Though from the sound of it, a number of people were probably hoping that they could figure out how the hell he pulled those stunts off.
      • Or Dexter knew of his reputation as The Fool by them and played off of it. It was said he later actually used his experience to better know which markets had high demand for a needed good, and bought that good in other places where it was a bargain, then resold said good to the first markets for profit. He'd made the first manufacturing center for clay pipes, and bought stock in vital toll bridges and great tracts of land. So even The Fool might be smart as well as lucky.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TheFool/RealLife