Meet a lone prospector who pans for gold and actually finds it

My daughter just returned from a 4th grade field trip to the Sierra Nevadas to learn about the California Gold Rush. The program included a chance to pan for gold and before she left, I jokingly said that I expected her to come home with at least several ounces. Sadly, she didn't strike gold. It wouldn't have entirely been out of the realm of possibility though according to this fascinating Mel Magazine feature about lone prospectors like high school teacher Dan Hurd who is keeping the gold rush dream alive (and sharing his adventures on YouTube). From Mel:

The claim to mine this half-kilometer stretch of the Fraser (River in British Columbia) belongs to Hurd, and it’s become a fast favorite of his. “I’m keeping this claim kind of secret because the amount of big gold I’ve found here is significant compared to any other claim,” he tells me, describing a multi-gram nugget he picked up off the ground last year. “I’ve already pulled a half ounce of gold out of this claim, which, for a prospector, is a lot. That’s around $900 Canadian.”...

Hurd has found plenty of gold in his roughly two-dozen claims over the years, and uncovering several thousand dollars’ worth of the metal in an annual season isn’t unusual, though it takes a lot more time and failure than people expect, he jokes. “There’s a lot of delusions of grandeur out there. A lot of people think they can go out there, spend a day and pull $1,000 of gold out of the ground,” Hurd says.

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Surprise: making your own coins is a dangerous pain in the ass

After talking about how it takes a whack of skilled experts to make the stuff most of us take for granted, Andy from How to Make Everything comes to the conclusion that minting your own currency is a dangerous resource-intense pain in the ass. Read the rest

Couple's afternoon at the beach yields almost 5 grams of gold

Hobbyist gold miners are a joy to behold. Their enthusiasm in panning for gold and running sand through sluices is clearly a labor of love. Watch as they put all their gear through its paces, with their delight and fascination never waning. Read the rest

Interesting 1959 documentary on the art of gold beating

Pathé shot this cool documentary of British artisans turning gold blocks into gold leaf. There's clearly a lot of remarkable skill involved, but there's also a remarkable lack or hearing protection around some very noisy machines. Read the rest

FBI on the scene where legendary Civil War treasure of $54 million in gold may be buried

In June 1863, a Union shipment of 52 bars of gold now worth $54 million was said to be lost near Dents Run, Pennsylvania. Over the years, many treasure hunters have tried to locate the cache but the area is state land and it's illegal to dig without permission. Apparently though, FBI agents and state officials were just seen digging in the area. From CNN:

FBI spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski wouldn't say what the agency was doing there, only that FBI personnel were "carrying out court-authorized law enforcement activity in Elk County." She declined further comment to CNN.

But WJAC says their cameras spotted the owners of Finders Keepers USA, a Pennsylvania-based lost treasure recovery service, last Tuesday at the site some 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Finders Keepers has long been interested in the rumored Dents Run gold. In a post on the Finders Keepers site, founder Dennis Parada says he found a map of the treasure in the 1970s and searched the area unsuccessfully with metal detectors until 2004, when he uncovered a trove of Civil War-era artifacts that they turned over to the state.

"Each time we returned to the site we found more evidence that proved our claim. We found a bullet shell, knifes, animal traps, zinc mason jar lid, tin cans, bones (human or animal), whiskey bottle, camp fire pit, and a lot more ..." Parada wrote. He also claimed his high-powered metal detectors located "a large metal object" 8 to 10 feet underground.

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Berlin SWAT raids yield arrests in theft of manhole-sized gold coin

On Wednesday, heavily armed and armored Berlin police carried out a series of raids, arresting four suspects in the theft of a $3.9m, 220lb manhole-cover-sized gold coin from Berlin's Bode Museum in March. Read the rest

Watch how incredibly delicate Japanese gold leaf is made and applied

If you end up at some fancy event this month where gold leaf decorates the food, that gold leaf will be far thicker than traditional Japanese hand-pounded gold leaf, which can be as thin as 0.0001 millimeters. See how it's made in the fascinating video. Read the rest

Canadian man accused of smuggling $180k in gold in own arse

An employee of the Royal Canadian Mint stands accused of smuggling $180,000-worth of gold out of the institution in his rectum, reports Kelley Egan of the Ottawa Citizen, "evading multiple levels of detection with a time-honoured prison trick."

“Appalling,” was the conclusion of defence lawyer Gary Barnes, who described the Crown’s case as an underwhelming collection of circumstantial evidence.

“This is the Royal Canadian Mint, your Honour, and one would think they should have the highest security measures imaginable,” Barnes said in his closing submission.

“And here the gold is left sitting around in open buckets.”

Some crimes have a smoking gun. But this one had a coating gunge.

Investigators also found a container of vaseline in his locker and the trial was presented with the prospect that a puck could be concealed in an anal cavity and not be detected by the wand. In preparation for these proceedings, in fact, a security employee actually tested the idea, Barnes said. Lawrence did not take the stand — as is his legal right — and the Crown was not able to definitively establish how the gold pucks made their way out of the facility.

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RCMP: Former Canadian mint worker smuggled out $180K by hiding it up his butt

According to RCMP investigators, Leston Lawrence would make 210g "pucks" of gold using the mint's "dipping spoon," hide them up his butt, then pawn them for about $6,800, at the Ottawa Gold Buyers in the Westgate Shopping Centre, depositing the cheques at a Royal Bank in the same mall. Read the rest

Want to urinate in a gold toilet? You're in luck at the Guggenheim

Now you too can spend a penny in a priceless pissoir: New York's Guggenheim Museum is inviting visitors to take a slash in a gold toilet created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Read the rest

Plumbers find gold brick while renovating bathroom

While ripping apart a bathroom to renovate it, apprentice plumber Dean Materi noticed something in the rubble underneath the old tub. “I seen a gold shimmery thing on the ground and I thought it was a copper light fixture,” Materi told the Calgary Herald. “But when I went to shovel it up, it seemed kind of heavy. I picked it up and it was a gold brick.”

It was a 1-kilogram gold bar, worth US$40,703. When Materi's boss, Alif Babul, showed the brick to the homeowner, the owner "confirmed a gold bar was unaccounted for in the abode."

Babul believes the gold brick was stashed near the bathroom’s jacuzzi tub and over time was moved by the vibration of the motor.

I hate it when my jacuzzi motor moves my gold bricks.

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Whimsical treasure hunt turns into a grim search-and-rescue

When Forrest Fenn, a retired antiquities dealer, hid $2m worth of gold, jewels and artifacts in the Rockies and teased the location of the treasure with cryptic clues in his self-published memoir The Thrill of the Chase, he'd hoped to inspire readers "to get the kids off the couch and away from the game machine." Read the rest

Vending machine for gold bars

Gold to Go is a gold-plated vending machine that dispenses gold bars in various sizes and gold bullion coins. The first one was installed several years ago in the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The prices adjust based on market value via a Web connection. In the US, you can find a Gold to Go ATM in Manhattan, Atlantic City, and in Las Vegas's Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, natch.

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GoldRush: gold sculptures of things we treat as precious, by artist Črtomir Just

A series that imagines what various things we treasure would look like if they were literally made out of gold.

With water down, gold prospecting is up in California

Years of below average flows have exposed caches of sediment, and gold, that have been inaccessible for years. Read the rest

The occult gambling game giving out amulets of real gold

What in the unknown world is Jason Rohrer up to now?

Insider view of the cash-for-gold ripoff

Cash-for-gold is a con so dodgy that it's visible from space, but Clancy Martin's inside account of working in his brother's rip-off high-class Texas pawnbroker is an especially compelling view of the internals of the ripoff. Read the rest

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