Why the world's largest California Gold Rush Nugget could bring $400,000

The largest California Gold Rush Nugget left in existence, the 100 troy ounce gold nugget discovered last year in Nevada County, California, will be sold at public auction by Holabird-Kagin Americana this March in Sacramento.

Named the "Washington Nugget" because the nugget was discovered near the famous northern Mother lode Gold Rush mining camp of Washington, California, this nearly 100 ounce monster gold nugget (and several others) were found in an unmined section of the Omega-Malakoff Tertiary Channel in February 2010, by a lucky area land-owner. 

Authenticated by geologist Fred Holabird and valued at $250,000-$400,000, the nugget is the largest, original California Gold Rush region natural nugget still in existence. This nugget will sell to the highest bidder on March 15th in Sacramento, California in Session C of the Golden West Auction. A special sneak preview of the nugget is available at this week's FUN show in Tampa, Florida.

Gold is selling for very high prices at this time, of course, but the nugget's value is increased far beyond the price of gold by weight alone but because of its history.

Even lumps of gold follow the same rules as other collectibles and we've noted in the past the difference that can be made to a gold nugget's worth by its rarity, aesthetics and history. This can make them strong investments.

The Golden West auction encompasses three sessions of auctions covering some of the most important historical western material from the Gold Rush periods of California, Nevada and Colorado.

Washington Nugget
The spectacular Washington Nugget

The material has been assembled from many of the great Western Collections, as well as original material handed down within Gold Rush families, held intact for over 100 years. 

Session A will take place on March 11th at the annual WESTS (Western States Token Society) token auction and will highlight the finest Western Indian Trader, Fort and Territorial token Collections ever assembled.

Indian Trader tokens are an important form of money exchanged between Indians and Anglos in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Trading Posts were a way of life in the isolated outposts of the western plains and mountains, swapping furs, rugs, coats and other items for food stuffs and equipment. There has never been a sale of this magnitude and importance, and once this collection is disbursed, may never again be a sale like this. 

Session B will take place on March 14th and includes a strong photograph collection of American saloon interiors, saloon ephemera and Gold Rush region saloon tokens, also known as Pioneer Minor Coinage.

The saloon section also includes a large collection of the ultra-rare Good-for mirrors, one of the rarest forms of money, many with pictorial representations of the fabulous "gay-90's" saloon girls. Lastly, this session will include a collection of So-called dollars and $50 slug facsimiles.

Session C, the Grand Finale of the Golden West Auction, will take place on March 15th and will feature the above mentioned monster Washington Nugget and several other gold and mineral specimens along with two large original nineteenth-century bullion scales, some masterful original Gold Rush art (including a number of original Currier & Ives) and a massive Gold Rush banking collection from California and Nevada c1850s-1860s.

Contained in that collection are more than 100 different Bills of Exchange, a form the first circulating currency on the West Coast. Some of the highlights of the Gold Rush Collection are documents from the original 1910 San Francisco sale of the estate of James King of William, documents signed by Adolph Sutro, California coiner F. D. Kohler, and others.

A very rare letter book from Nevada mining and railroad magnate Hume Yerington from the mid-1860's contains incredible information about his life prior to his railroad successes. A large collection of US Mint ephemera is included, including rare bullion receipts, photographs, lithograph, gold coin and other coin bank bags, as well as rare Carson City gold and silver coins.

Accompanying the Mint ephemera is a section of California Counters and rare California Gold Rush tokens.


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