Gold in its many natural forms helps highlight Holabird Western Americana auction

Auction offers precious metals in their raw forms found all over the world
By , Coin World
Published : 10/04/17
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Gold in its natural state can take on many forms, several of which are featured in Holabird’s Western Americana Collections LLC auction scheduled for Oct. 19 to 23. The 2,900-lot auction will be held in Reno, Nevada, at the firm’s offices at 3555 Airway Drive Suite 309 in Reno.

Lots featuring gold in its natural states include examples of leaf gold, wire gold, gold nuggets and gold embedded in quartz, among others.


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Among the gold nuggets offered is a 2-centimeter by 2-centimeter by 0.7-centimeter nugget weighing 5 grams with an estimate of $1,250 to $1,875.

The nugget traces its origin to the bustling California mining town of Michigan Bluff. Within five years of mining commencing in 1853, Michigan Bluff gold miners were shipping $100,000 worth of the metal monthly.

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According to the auction lot description: “The Michigan Bluff District was largely composed of many small mines and claims, some of which were consolidated into only a few significant mines. For the past several decades, the De Maria / Eagle's Nest Mines in the Michigan Bluff District of Placer County, California have been prolific producers of superbly crystallized, lode gold specimens.”

Leaf gold

A number of lots in the auction trace their pedigree to the mineral collection of F. John Barlow, “acknowledged as one of America’s most prominent private mineral collectors during the 1970’s until the early 2000’s,” with more than 5,000 specimens of various types, weights and sizes.

Among the Barlow gold specimens is an example of leaf gold found in an undisclosed location in California.

The example weighs 6.2 grams and measures 3.1 centimeters by 1.7 centimeters by 2.2 centimeters. The nugget carries an estimate of $3,000 to $4,500.

Wire gold

An unusual example of wire gold in quartz was discovered several decades ago by a metal detectorist at the site of the Ibex Mine, Breece Hill, Leadville, Leadville District, Lake County, Colorado. It was  recovered from mine dumps on Breece Hill.

The Ibex Mine has a historical link to Margaret “Molly” Brown, who became known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” having survived the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic.

According to the auction lot description, Molly “moved to Leadville when she was 18. In 1886 she married a mining engineer who was twelve years older, James J. Brown. The Brown family acquired great wealth in 1893 when Brown was instrumental in the discovery of a substantial gold ore seam at the Little Jonny Mine owned by his employers, the Ibex Mining Company.”

Weighing 11.1 grams, the specimen measures 2 centimeters by 2.5 centimeters by 1.3 centimeters.

The nugget carries an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.

Gold in quartz

Another former Barlow specimen “features leaf gold in quartz matrix with associated pyrite crystals” that was discovered in the northern Sierra Nevada region that is home to numerous important gold deposits.

According to the lot description, these deposits “include the famous lode districts and placer deposits of Nevada County which were prolific producers for nearly a century, starting in the 1850’s.” The sample measures 3.7 centimeters by 2.3 centimeters by 1.4 centimeters.

The estimate for the lot is $3,600 to $5,400.

Russian gold

Another former Barlow specimen is a 14.3-gram Russian gold nugget found in a stream in the Lena River Basin, Bulun District, Polar Yakutia, Sakha Republic, Eastern-Siberian Region, Russia.

The specimen measures 2.5 centimeters by 2 centimeters by 1.3 centimeters.

The nugget’s estimate is $3,500 to $5,250.

View the auction’s complete contents here.

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