5 surprising gold finds

Gold is found all over the world, but giant nuggets are rare. This article takes a look at where it’s most abundant and some of the more unusual discoveries.

  1. The largest gold nugget ever found

Found in Victoria, Australia on 5 February 1869, the largest gold nugget ever found was a staggering 2,315 troy ounces. It was named the Welcome Stranger nugget, and was a reported 61 x 31 cm in size. It was quickly melted into bars and shipped to the Bank of England to be used as gold bullion.

  1. The second largest gold nugget ever found

This was discovered in 1858 in Ballarat, Australia and given the name, the Welcome nugget by its finder, Richard Jeffery. The size of the nugget was exceptional; it was 49cm long, 15cm wide and 15cm tall. Weighing in at 2,217 troy ounces, it was (and remains) one of the heaviest nuggets of gold ever found. It was later bought by The Royal Mint in 1859 and minted through The Royal Mint Refinery (RMR). Around this time, The RMR was producing more than 334 million fine ounces thanks to gold discoveries like this, as well as those in California in 1849 and South Africa in 1886. The gold from the Welcome Nugget was later minted into gold Sovereigns.

  1. The Welsh gold mines

Although Australia features prominently in this list, it may surprise you to learn that gold has been found in the UK. It may not be the first place you think of when you think of searching for gold, but Wales actually has a gold mining history that dates back to the Bronze Age, specifically, the Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Carmarthenshire. There is evidence to suggest that the area was first used for gold extraction by gold washing of the gold-bearing gravels of the river Cothi, sometime in the Bronze Age. It was also used later by the Romans, whose surface and underground mines were in use from 150AD-300AD. After the Romans left Britain in 500AD, the mines were abandoned, but they remain a popular tourist attraction in the area.

  1. The safety deposit box

Moving further afield to California now and the Californian gold rush era. A gold nugget was discovered in a mine in 1865 along the American River, near the location of Sutter’s Mill where the gold rush started in 1848. Named the Fricot nugget, it weighed 201 troy ounces. Bizarrely, it was thought to have been lost for many years, but it was eventually found in a safety deposit box in 1943.

  1. The Hand of Faith

So-called because some people say it looks almost like a hand reaching up to the sky, the Hand of Faith was found in 1980 just 12 inches below the surface in Victoria, Australia. It was found by amateur treasure hunter Kevin Hillier, using a metal detector. To this day, it’s the largest nugget found using a metal detector. It was sold for more than $1m US dollars and is now on display at a Las Vegas hotel and casino, which is called, (of course) ‘The Golden Nugget’. It’s become a famed attraction, as it is the largest nugget on display in the world. Weighing in at 875 troy ounces, its measurements are an astonishing 20cm x 9cm x 47cm.

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