WORLD'S BIGGEST GOLD NUGGETS
Welcome Stranger Nugget
The world's largest nugget was found just a couple of inches below the ground near Dunolly, Victoria, Australia on 5 February 1869. Weighing in at 2,315.5 troy ounces (72.02 kg) it surpassed the "Welcome Nugget" by nearly a hundred ounces. In this 1869 illustration published shortly after the discovery, the size of the nugget (61 by 31 cm or 24 by 12 in.) is compared to a 12 inch (30 cm) scale bar. The nugget was soon melted down into ingots and shipped to the Bank of England. Before 1990, just about all large nuggets were melted down for their monetary value. Today there are less than a dozen known nuggets over 500 ounces.
This massive 68 kilo (150 lbs.) gold "boulder" was discovered by a group of miners in the Ballart gold fields in Victoria, Australia on 9 June 1858. The first two miners to see the nugget fainted at the sight of it. At the time it was the largest single piece of natural gold ever found. A little over a year later, the nugget was melted down by the London mint to make gold coins, but models were made beforehand to create replicas like the one seen here. At around 2,217 troy ounces (69 kg), it remains the second largest gold nugget ever found. Because of their scarcity, large nuggets always fetch a price well above their value as precious metal. In 2013, the Welcome Nugget's gold content alone would be valued at nearly $4 million, but an actual specimen of this size and purity would sell for many times this amount.
Hand of Faith Nugget
The world largest extant nugget now lives in this rotating display case in the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. An amateur Australian miner found it in 1980 while casually sweeping his metal detector around his trailer near Wedderburn, Victoria, Australia. The nugget was resting less than 12 inches (30 cm) below the surface! Weighing in at 876 troy ounces (27.2 kilograms or 61 pounds 11 ounces), this massive nugget was sold to the casino for more than $1 million over a decade ago. Today the gold content alone is worth closer to $1.5 million.
Perth Mint Nugget
What is considered to be the world's second largest existing nugget is held up for its first public display at the Perth Mint in Perth, Western Australia on 9 April 2000. Today, this 819 ounce lump of almost pure gold is worth at least $1.3 million. Found by an unnamed prospector in the Kalgoorlie Region of Western Australia in 1995, the nugget was hidden under his bed for several years before he tried to sell it in the United States. It is currently owned by an Australian mining company.
Alaskan Gold Rush Nuggets
During the first years of the great Nome, Alaska gold rush that began in 1899, these gold nuggets were the largest found, weighing (from left to right) 3 kg (108 oz.), 5.1 kg (182 oz.), and 2.7 kg (97 oz.). At the time, they were worth $1,998, $3,367.00, and $1.794 respectively. At the average 2013 gold price, they are worth 90 times their 1904 values with the largest worth over $300,000.
This beautiful nugget is famous as one of the best examples of a large body of crystalline gold in which the metal is present as cubic crystals rather than its typical smooth, amorphous shape. These crystals are quite rare in nature because the "molten" gold is usually under intense pressure and rarely has "room" to form into these more delicate geometries. The Latrobe Nugget was found in Victoria, Australia in 1853. It weighs 717 grams (25 oz.)
Discovered in 1985 in Victoria, Australia, Cindy's Pride was found within 500 meters of the spot where the Hand of Faith Nugget had been dug up five year before. Weighing 159.3 troy ounces (5 kg), the nugget was named after the finder's dog who was with him when he unearthed the treasure. In this 1990 photo, the owner of the Australian firm Goldquest takes a close look at the nugget just before it went on sale for $91,000. Today, the gold in Cindy's Nugget is worth well over $250,000.
The Fricot nugget weighs 13.8 pounds (6.25 kg) and is the largest surviving crystalline gold nugget from the California Gold Rush era. It was found at a mine in 1865 along the American River, near the location of Sutter's Mill where the gold rush started in 1848. Thought to be lost for many years, it was re-discovered in a safe deposit box in 1943 and ultimately ended up in the California State Mining and Mineral Museum. In September 2012, thieves broke into the museum and made off with nearly $2 million in gold and gems but fortunately couldn't beat the Fricot Nugget's alarm system.
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