US Coins

Man finds gold nugget in California

Gold nugget weighing more than 70 ounces found by man in Butte County in California. The nugget has been named the Butte Nugget and will be marketed by Kagin's Inc.

A California man has discovered what may be the largest gold nugget in private hands, according to a news release from Kagin’s Inc.

The unidentified man was prospecting for gold on public land in Butte County in California in July 2014.

The nugget, named the Butte Nugget, weighs more than 70 ounces, according to Kagin’s, who will handle the marketing of the nugget.

The firm estimates the nugget to be worth $450,000.

“Large California nuggets are incredibly rare and valuable,” noted Donald Kagin, president of Kagin’s Inc. of Tiburon, Calif. He is a specialist in pioneer and early U.S. gold coins, and is author of Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States.

Documenting the find

The man who found the nugget contacted Kagin’s senior numismatist, David McCarthy, who evaluated the nugget and confirmed its provenance, according to the news release.

“Fortunately, the discoverer of the Butte Nugget photographed its excavation step by step. I was able to use his pictures to positively identify the location where the gold was discovered,” McCarthy said.  “Nuggets like this don’t come along ever day — I really didn’t believe that I would see a California nugget of this size unearthed during my lifetime.”

The efforts to document the excavation of the nugget recall the firm’s marketing four years of an even larger nugget that the firm later discovered had been misrepresented by the seller.

In the press release announcing the new discovery, Kagin revisited that earlier nugget, noting that “in 2010, a man contacted us claiming to have discovered a 98-ounce nugget on his property also in northern California. After auctioning the piece for $460,000, we were made aware that it was actually found in Australia where such giant nuggets are more common. We immediately refunded the buyer, paid his agent a commission, resold the piece as an Australian specimen to the second highest bidder for a lesser amount, retained our commission and paid the original consignor (who wanted to use the nugget sale to sell his property) the balance. Everyone was satisfied with the outcome, and we are excited about another opportunity to offer such an historically important gold nugget.”

Exhibit planned

The Butte Nugget, as the new find is being called, will be displayed at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show Oct. 23 to 26 at the Festival Pavilion at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

“This year’s San Francisco Fall Antiques Show’s theme is The Rush of Gold: Precious Metals in Art and Antiques,” McCarthy said. “I cannot imagine a better place and time to debut a California gold nugget of this magnitude.”

 For more information about the Butte Nugget, visit the firm’s website at 

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