Through the course of history, several people were lucky enough to have found such a precious element in their own backyard! Early this year, a prospector made an extraordinary discovery finding a 12 lb (5.5 Kg) gold nugget in a place where hundreds have already searched before. It was lying under only 23 inches of soil. The total price for such a discovery – -$300,000! Basing on the current market price of gold at that time, the value of this nugget was apparently higher due to the reason that it was such an extraordinary find. This gold nugget was dug out by the anonymous spectator in a field near Ballarat, a city in the state of Victoria, Australia. Measuring its longest side, it reached 8.66 inches (22 cm)!
While this is incredible in its own right, this is not the largest gold nugget ever found and recorded. Such record goes to the “Welcome Stranger,” measuring 61 cm by 31 cm, discovered by John Deason and Richard Oates on February 5, 1869 near Moliagul, western Victoria, Australia. With a weight of about 2316 troy ounces (72.04 Kg), this nugget was found about five centimeters below the surface near a bark of a tree on a slope leading to then called Bulldog Gully. It was soon melted down and was sent as ingots to Melbourne to the Bank of England.
The previous record belonged to the “Welcome Nugget,” a 99.6% pure gold found in Ballarat. It weighed 2,217 ounces (62.85 Kg). This attracted wonder and awe in the area and was displayed at the Mining Exchange and the Police Court in aid for hospital funds. The Witkowski Brothers bought it for 10,050 pounds and after it was exhibited to the people in Melbourne, it was sent to London where it was shown at the Crystal Palace until November of 1859 when it was melted down to create sovereigns.
What currently is the largest nugget on display is the “Hand of Faith.” This was discovered by Kevin Hillier on September 26, 1980 using a metal detector. It was buried some six inches below the surface of the ground near Wedderburn, Australia, about 40 km north of Moliagul, where the “Welcome Stranger” was found. This weighs 11 ounces (0.31 kg). It is currently housed at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada at a price reportedly around one million US dollars!
Gold nuggets are not composed of pure 24K gold. A safe estimate would be between 20K-23K. Compared to the ones found in Alaska, those discovered in Australia often have higher purity. However, there is a great chance that you can find one in your own backyard, especially with the right equipment. So, even if you do not live in Australia, keep digging! You might find one that will surpass current records!