California Gold Nugget, United States, ca 1849

California Gold Nugget, United States, ca 1849

Usage conditions apply
The first gold from the Golden State was alluvial, found in rivers and streams and free of the rocky matrix that had once held it. Larger pieces were called nuggets. Smaller ones were called dust. It was this type of river-born metal that gave us one of our most indelible images of the West: a fortune-seeker by a stream, swirling sand and water in a simple pan, looking for the glint of wealth and a golden dream.
Our nugget weighs about a tenth of an ounce. Its deep yellow color suggests the purity of the metal it contains-about 90 percent.
Currently not on view
Object Name
gold nugget
date made
ca 1849
place made
United States: California
place of issue
United States: California
Physical Description
gold (overall metal)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
catalog number
OC 3 B
Credit Line
Chase Manhattan
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
Coins, Currency and Medals
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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