(Hit it big and you'll cash in too.)
Not long ago I wrote a Bedrock Dreams news post wherein I alluded to some recent significant gold finds by small-scale miners and relic and nugget hunters in California, Oregon, and Nevada. At that time I deliberately held back from giving details on these finds to protect the privacy of the finders, but now that the cat's out of the bag, read on to learn more about one of these extraordinary recoveries.
You Can't Argue with Success
Kevin H.'s family owns some old property in the Motherlode Region east of Sacramento, California. Periodically he and his wife take a run up to the property where evidence of old mining activity abounds, including tailings piles and artifacts such as rock hammers, broken crucibles, and drill bits. In the past Kevin has found multi-gram placer nuggets and even a 3/4 troy ounce beauty in a nearby creek, but the really "big one" had eluded him. In September of this year Kevin and his wife headed up to the property and set up their detecting gear which includes standard metal detectors as well as gold "locators" such as the Pro-Spector Gold Locator and the Accumeter Pro Resistivity Meter.
If you'll humor me here, I'd like to digress for a moment and declare once again my innate distrust and distaste of so-called gold locators (and their purveyors) that claim to detect or locate gold, coins, treasure, and other precious metals from a distance...in my opinion this sort of gear is "fringe" at best and at the worst, a shining example of P.T. Barnum's old adage that "There's a sucker born every minute." Having said that however, I mean no insult to Kevin H. or his wife...as you'll soon find out, I'll be eating crow big time. After all, you can't argue with success however it comes someone's way.
Dirt Encrusted Piece of Junk?
To start his big day, Kevin found an 1848 Seated Liberty silver dime near an old cabin on the property. This was a nice find and definitely proved the historical nature of his property. I'm assuming he found the old dime using a conventional gold or coin hunting metal detector, but I don't know that for certain. However, finding the Seated Liberty dime definitely gave Kevin (and his wife) great impetus to search on.
While using his resistivity meter Kevin says he got a hit in a generalized area and then proceeded to break out his gold locator to verify the resistivity signal. Kevin "boxed in" the target to a smaller area of around ten to twelve feet and then fired up his conventional metal detector to pinpoint the target. In less than five minutes Kevin's machine screamed out a strong, non-ferrous target signal and he dug down about eighteen inches and pulled out what at first he thought to be a dirt-encrusted piece of junk in the general shape of a small crucible. After cleaning the clump and scraping away at its top part, Kevin noticed a yellow metallic color begin to peek through. As he succinctly put it, "I think my blood pressure went through the roof!"
Hitting the "Big One"
Little wonder, brothers and sisters. Kevin's find wasn't junk at all, but 29 troy ounces of gold! Kevin surmises that some old timer had melted down his placer gold in a small crucible giving the object its shape. Having worked and dredged the Motherlode Region for many years I tend to agree with him on this assessment. The question that comes to my mind that's a bit more difficult to answer, however, is exactly how did some old timer end up letting all that gold go missing in action? I guess we'll never know.
(Image copyright 2013 Kevin H., courtesy the International California Mining Journal.)
This was an extraordinary find for any number of reasons. From a purely financial standpoint, that melted clump of gold that Kevin thinks runs about .900 fine is worth close to $40,000 if we assume a spot gold price of $1,500 per troy ounce. That ain't small potatoes by any stretch! If, on the other hand, this clump of crucible gold could be verified as an artifact from the 1848-49 California Gold Rush period, that value could double, triple, or perhaps go even higher. Who knows? However, the likelihood of that sort of verification is probably slim-to-none at best. Either way, Kevin hit the "big one" and my sincere and heartfelt congratulations go out to him and his wife for this great find.
The Lesson ?
The lesson here? Excellent finds are still out there awaiting recovery by small-scale gold miners and artifact and treasure hunters. Do your research, get on the right ground with the right gear, and throw a bit of luck into the mix and you too might be grinning from ear-to-ear as you hot foot it to the bank.
Me? Maybe I need to talk to Kevin about gold locators!
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.)