What may be the largest California gold nugget in existence sold for $460,000, including the 15 percent buyer’s fee, in a March 16 auction.
The nugget, which weighs approximately 6 pounds and 13 ounces (or more than 8 troy pounds), was sold in the third session of Holabird-Kagin Americana’s Golden West Auction in Sacramento, Calif., to a bidder who wishes to remain anonymous. Spectrum Numismatics International of Irvine, Calif., placed the winning bid on behalf of a client.
Nugget found in California gold fields
The Washington nugget, so named because it was found near the former Gold Rush mining camp of Washington, Calif., was authenticated by geologist Fred Holabird of Holabird-Kagin Americana.
The nugget was variously described as weighing 98+ ounces in the auction catalog and 100 troy ounces in publicity material touting its exhibit in the months leading up to the auction. It was found by a Nevada County, Calif., landowner in February 2010 in an unmined section of the Omega-Malakoff Tertiary Channel.
The auction house has not identified the finder.
The giant nugget was actually one of three nuggets found in the same area “within just a small space,” Holabird wrote in the auction lot listing.
According to Holabird, the nugget “may be the sole remaining authenticated large gold nugget of 100 troy ounce caliber” from the original California Gold Rush region.
The Washington nugget was found using a metal detector. The nugget is from the “blue lead” or bottommost layer of the Tertiary gold channels in California, according to Holabird.
The area had been prospected long ago — the region was the site of mining innovations in the 1850s — and Holabird believes that the site where the Washington nugget was found was covered with mining tailings long ago, without being searched.