Precious Metals

Bonhams May 23 auction flooded with gold nuggets

Gold nuggets, featuring the 250.77-ounce “Twilight” nugget, plus leaf gold and gold embedded in quartz are featured lots in Bonhams’ May 23 sale in Los Angeles.

The Twilight nugget carries an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.

The nugget was discovered circa 1990 using a metal detector, in Dunolly, in the central Victoria goldfields of Australia.

It took two men using pickaxes and crowbars several hours to extricate the mammoth nugget that was two feet below the surface of the ground, underneath a layer of loose sand, gravel and rock.

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According to the auction lot description, Dunolly has been the site of of more nugget discoveries than any other location in the world.

In 1856, the discovery of gold in Dunolly drew nearly 60,000 people seeking fortune, in one of the world’s largest gold rushes.

Many of the world’s largest gold nuggets discovered have been found in the Dunolly region, including the 1869 discovery a short distance away, near Moliagul, of a 69-kilo nugget. In comparison, the Twilight nugget weighs only 7.8 kilos.

The auction lot description notes that many of the largest nuggets discovered were melted for their precious metal content.

Other gold nuggets

Among the other nugget lots offered is one containing 20 nuggets discovered near Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory of Canada.

The total weight of the nuggets is 3.6 ounces, or 114 grams, with the largest nugget weighing 12.18 grams and measuring 21.32 by 16.8 by 6 millimeters.

The lot has an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.

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Offered with an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000 is a palm-size nugget, with various pierced holes and crevices, some of which may indicate the presence of quartz once lodged there but now extruded and washed away.

The nugget weighs approximately 9.02 ounces and measures 3 inches by 2.125 inches by 2.875 inches.

Leaf gold

Resembling a seahorse is a 2.25-inch piece of leaf gold discovered sometime in the 1960s in the Edie Creek region of Wau Province in Papua New Guinea. 

The Edie Creek area has been a historic gold and silver mining area since 1926. Situated about 3.1 miles southwest of Wau, it was the center of one of the first major gold rushes in Papua New Guinea before World War II. 

The leaf gold, which weighs 3.1 grams, has been housed in a private Tasmanian collection since its discovery.

The leaf gold has an estimate of $3,500 to $5,500.

Gold with quartz

Among the lots in which gold and quartz are intertwined is a crystallized gold specimen from the Serra do Caldeirao, Pontes e lacerda, Mato Grosso, area of Brazil.

The piece, according to the lot description, “features ‘herringbone’ crystallization and hoppered crystals, with minute traces of crystallized quartz in some crevices.”

Measuring 1.75 inches by 1 inch by 0.5 inch, the crystallized gold weighs 1.67 ounces.

It has an estimate if $40,000 to $50,000.

The buyer’s fee is 25 percent added on the first $150,000 of the closing hammer price; 20 percent from $150,001 to $3 million; and 12 percent on the excess if the hammer price above $3,000,001.

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