“Striking It Rich:” California Man Cashes in on Spectacular Nugget

(Here's the "Washington Nugget" as it was found nestled in bedrock gravels.)

It Only Weighed 8.2 Pounds!

Remember Jim S., the San Francisco Bay Area businessman whose property in the old gold-bearing region of Nevada County, California yielded a 9-troy pound placer nugget some time ago? No, you don’t remember? Then you may want to refresh your memory by reading my post: “Striking it Rich:’ California Man Finds 9-Pound Nugget (Updated")

Actually, Jim’s fantastic gold find didn’t weigh a full 9-troy pounds as first thought. Nope, it only weighed a measly 8.2 pounds, or 984 troy ounces! Along with this whopper Jim also recovered two “smaller” gold nuggets, one weighing only 4 troy ounces and the other a mere 10 troy ounces. (Do I sound jealous here? Yep, I am…)

Specimens Always Command Higher Prices

These remarkable finds were all pulled from ancient bedrock gravels (I suspect Tertiary gravels) near the tiny mining community of Washington outside Nevada City, California. This should provide a testament of sorts to my mining friends about the importance of bedrock in small-scale mining activities. Additionally, it should send a clear signal to all you treasure hunters out there that fantastic finds still await discovery and recovery.

Just this past month (March 2011), Jim put his gold finds up for auction in Sacramento, California. Named the “Washington Nugget,” the 8.2-troy pound gold nugget contained approximately $140,000 in actual precious metal, but as I’ve told you before, you NEVER want to sell large or unusually formed or shaped gold nuggets for their melt value.

Placer Gold Locations

Why is that, you ask? Because large nuggets like this were melted down in the past to make bullion or coins and very few have withstood both greed and time. This is especially true in the California Motherlode region, where the largest gold rush in history took place. So, spectacular nuggets like Jim’s command much higher prices as museum or collector specimens.

(The "Washington Nugget" not long before the auction.)

Standing in Tall Cotton

The upshot is that the “Washington Nugget” went for a cool $460,000 while the 4 and 10-troy ouncers sold for $7,700 and $17,000, respectively. That put Jim’s take for the day at nearly half a million dollars (minus the auction house’s percentage, that is). The buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, was simply described as living “back East.”

Wolverine Boots
Dickies Work Clothes

Oh, and if Jim S. wasn’t already standing in tall cotton, it’s estimated that another 4,000 troy ounces of placer gold still await recovery on the land he purchased as a “weekend getaway.” It seems his real estate investment in Nevada County, California has paid off handsomely, don’t you think?

If you liked this post, you may want to read: “Small-Scale Mining Success Stories (Part 3b)”

© Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2011

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. Hey JR...

    Just a little clarification as report by the Sacramento Bee. The property owner has a large pile of tailings on his land. He brought in Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and a backhoe. The GPR spotted something so the backhoe went to work. A few things most of us dont have. A pile of tailings, GPR, and a backhoe. LOL

    Phil C.

  2. I know Phil...I wrote about his use of the GPR and backhoe in the first post of this series. They used the GPR, found anomalies, then used the backhoe to get down to bedrock...then, a trusty metal detector and "voila!" Thanks for commenting. Jim (J.R.)


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