"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": A 13-pound gold nugget

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit" is a series of posts aimed at giving BoingBoing readers a chance to show off their favorite exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. I'll be featuring posts in this series all week. Want to see them all? Check out the archive post. I'll update the full list there every morning.

It's a little funny to think of something that weighs 13.8 pounds being described as a "nugget", but the Fricot Nugget is, in fact, exactly that. "Nugget" in this case, refers to a naturally occurring piece of gold—a precious metal found in its natural habitat. The Fricot Nugget, at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, is the largest remaining intact mass of crystalline gold from 19th century California. That's a lot of qualifiers, but it's still a big deal. Larger nuggets than this have been found. Heck, larger nuggets than this have been found in California. But most of them ended up melted down. Given the fact that the Fricot Nugget was found in 1865, during the Gold Rush, it's kind of a wonder, in and of itself, that the thing survived intact.

Reader Edie Howe took this photo, and sent me several other photos of the nugget, as well. In one, you can read part of the museum signage that goes with the nugget. Turns out, a big part of why the Fricot Nugget is still with us today is that it was misplaced for several decades, forgotten about in a safe-deposit box.

Image: Credit Edie Howe. Used with permission.


    1. Might be worth alot more – that’s raw gold – typically diluted to 24k before they weigh it for value :)

    2. Remember that gold is priced in “Troy Ounces” (absurd, but real!)
      13.8 lb ->  453.59 g/lb = 6259.6 g
      6259.6 g ->  31.1034 g/troy oz = 201.25 troy ounces

      201.25 oz  x  $1725/oz = $347,156

      And yes, it’s not going to be totally pure. More likely a natural amalgam of 80% Au and 20% Ag.But 24k *is* the totally pure form of gold.

  1. I bet there’s a bunch of these just sitting around at the bottom of a crater on the moon.  So THAT’S what Newt is up to.

  2. was found in 1865, during the Gold Rush, it’s kind of a wonder, in and of itself, that the thing survived intact.

    They just couldn’t find an envelope big enough to send it to Cash 4 Gold.

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