"Striking it Rich:" California Man's 9-Pound Nugget a Scam?

 (The so-called "Washington Nugget" may not be from California after all.)

Batten Down the Hatches!

Stand by for heavy seas and batten down the hatches, me hearties! The nearly 9-troy pound "Washington Nugget" supposedly uncovered by Jim Sanders (yep, now his full name is out) on his Nevada County property and recently sold to a private collector for nearly half a million dollars may not be California placer gold after all.

Before I get into the meat of the matter here, you can read these posts for background info leading up to this latest revelation:

"Striking It Rich:" California Man Finds 9-Pound Nugget (Updated)"

"Striking It Rich:" California Man Cashes in on Spectacular Nugget"

Same Nugget Found Near Ballarat?

OK, back to this unusual tale turned even stranger by recent events. It seems an Aussie placer miner named Murray Cox is claiming to all who'll listen that he and his "pard," Reggie Wilson, found this very same nugget in the Outback way back in 1987. In case you didn't already know it, the 1980s produced a veritable explosion of very large gold nuggets (including the "Hand of Faith") in the Aussie Outback as newer and better metal detectors began being used by a new breed of prospector turned treasure hunter...the nugget shooter.

Gold Prospecting Books
Gold Pans

Cox claims he and Wilson found this very same nugget which they called the "Orange Roughie" near Ballarat, Victoria in 1987 and that Wilson sold it in 2000 to a dealer for just $50,000. Interestingly enough, photos of their find show a nugget that is essentially the same size, shape, color, and weight as the "Washington Nugget." Hmmmmmmmm....

(Reggie Wilson with the "Orange Roughie" nugget from Ballarat, Australia.)

Tests Could Confirm or Deny

Now even Fred Holabird, the geologist who conducted the recent auction of the "Washington Nugget," is having second thoughts and admits he (and others) may have been scammed. Holabird is now calling for mineralogical identification tests to be performed on the purported find by Jim Sanders (who also goes by the moniker of James Saunders Grill) on his Nevada County, California property. Chemical/mineralogical tests would confirm for once and for all that the nugget in question is Aussie gold from Ballarat and not gold from California's Northern Motherlode region.

Where to Find Gold

Jim Sanders (a.k.a, Saunders, Grill, etc.), who claimed to have found the "Washington"/"Orange Roughie" on his property outside Nevada City is not talking to the press or anyone else these days. Nor is Spectrum Numismatics International, the company that placed the winning bid at the nugget's recent auction.

I'll Tell You What I Know

Who's telling the truth and who's lying here? No one seems 100 percent certain at this point. Those in Sanders' camp say that Reggie Wilson and Murray Cox are liars and the two Aussies maintain steadfastly that the "Washington Nugget" is in reality, their former "Orange Roughie" and that Sanders and the rest of his co-conspirators are "scammers."

What is known is that Sanders or Saunders or Grill or whatever his name is who owns the California property where the "Washington Nugget" was supposedly found was asking millions of dollars for his land. Sounds a bit like "salting the works," doesn't it?

(Comparison photo; "Washington Nugget"on left and the "Orange Roughie" on the right.)

I'll tell you what I know...right now is a very good time to get your ass scammed or hustled...especially with anything dealing with gold or gold mining. With gold as high as it is, the red warning lights should start blinking inside your head because every 2-bit hustler, scammer, con artist, thief, and liar is out there trying to cash in on your dreams.

Carhartt Wear
Wolverine Boots

I know this only too well from my own recent claim scam experiences....so do as I say and not as I do...be smart and DON'T ASSUME ANYTHING...moreover, don't believe anyone or anything until the proof is solidly in hand.

Good luck to one and all.

(Thanks to California miner Phil C. for bringing this news to my attention.)

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Bedrock Dreams" Rogue's Gallery (Part 2)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2011

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


  1. Great research Jim. SCAM SCAM SCAM...Love your Rogue's Gallery.

  2. As always I appreciate your comments and support Greg. It's too bad the "Rogue's Gallery" became a necessity...but that's the world we are living in. Stay steady my friend. Jim

  3. Wow. Every major feature on Orange Roughie is present on Washington Nugget. I'd say they have a case! Thanks for yet another interesting post Jim.

  4. Thanks for commenting...I agree...the photo of the "Orange Roughie" may not be the best there is, but as you rightly point out...all the major features are there...not to mention the weight! Take care..Jim

  5. After the (Orange Roughie) nugget sold originally it found its way into the Nevada Casino Gold Collection as just another part of one of the worlds largest gold collections. When that Casino estate was auctioned the whole collection including the (orange Roughie) nugget was appraised and auctioned by none Other than Fred Holabird of Holabird Kagin Auctions. that is right folks the same "expert" that "mistook" the nugget as a California Nugget has actually sold it twice, Once as the Australian Nugget from the Casino Collection and a second time claiming it was the largest remaining California Nugget! Now - Guess whom was soliciting investors for development money in California to develop the Lost Scotsman's Mine while he was also actioning off the Lost Scotsman Mine where he claimed the Nugget was from. If you want to follow his latest scam search Alaska's Gold Leaf Placer LLC. This guy claiming he did not recognize the Nugget is like a sailor not recognizing his ship! sounds like a good excuse when one is drunk yet holds no water at his court martial!

    1. I hear you. The whole California nugget thing was a scam and this guy is shaky at best.


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