In 1936, someone dug up a brass plate signed by Drake in the California mud, and Bolton immediately lost his s**t over the discovery. Before anyone could sit him down and sober him up, he'd shelled out thousands of dollars for the hunk of metal and told the world how it was all sorts of really real. And if Bolton's fangirlish squealing, shaking and crying wasn't a convincing enough declaration, the word of the California Historical Society's president and directors seemed to do the trick. The plate was displayed at the Smithsonian, Golden Gate International Exposition and Bancroft Library. When Bolton eventually kicked the brassy bucket, he did so with the knowledge that his life's goal had not been a failure, and that's where the story ends.
Later, Uncharted immortalized Bolton by having him jump off a 400-foot cliff while drunk.
But Wait ...
It took until 1977 before the truth about Drake's plate of brass came to light -- it was a cruel prank on Bolton by his drinking buddies.
Those wacky professors of Clampus Vitus became so exhausted by Bolton's obsession that they decided to make his dreams come true, and then set them on fire. Together, they forged an insanely detailed replica of the missing plate, buried it in the ground and waited for the fun to begin. Of course, they did leave a sign that the plate was a forgery -- they painted the club's logo on it, in fluorescent paint that can be seen under a black light.
The only problem was that when the plate was dug up, nobody bothered analyzing it for secret black light messages, because why the hell would they? That's when things began to spiral out of control. It turns out that the Clampus club had created such an awesome forgery that it went on to fool every expert that they had hoped would uncover their prank, laugh and buy them a round of beers. Very soon, it had gone so far that the club members presumably spat in their hands and vowed never to talk about it, thus wasting everyone's time for the next 40 years.
"We'll tell him the truth on his deathbed. It'll be hysterical."