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Gold Nuggets & Specimens on Display at the Smithsonian Museum

We’ve highlighted lots of gold nugget collections over the years… quite frankly I’m surprised that I let this one slip my mind.

In fact, this is one of the best gold nugget displays on Earth.

Of course, I’m talking about the natural gold display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

The Smithsonian Museum houses one of the finest natural gold collections anywhere. Huge placer gold nuggets, large crystalline specimens, and beautiful gold/quartz specimens are on display. The majority of these pieces are from the California goldfields, but pieces from around the world are also on display as well.


California Gold Rush Nuggets


Most of the nuggets in this collection come from the California goldfields. No surprise, considering that it was one of the richest goldfields on Earth, producing some of the most amazing nuggets and specimens ever discovered.

Large gold nuggets have always been rare. Even during the height of the Gold Rush, the big multi-ounce nuggets were hard to find. Nuggets over a pound were incredibly hard to find.

Finding a piece like this would be incredible, even back in 1849.

CA gold nugget

One of the larger nuggets on display at the Smithsonian. It was originally discovered near Greenville, Plumas County, California.


Crystalline Gold Specimens


The crystalline gold specimens at the Smithsonian are the real centerpieces of the collection.

Crystalline gold is much rarer than a waterworn nugget. The Smithsonian has some of the largest and most incredible crystalline specimens existing today.

We’re lucky that these pieces made it. In the early days of gold mining, there simply was not any added value for the rarity of specimens like this. It was simply gold, priced per ounce. The miners would put it on the scale and exchange it for currency.

During the early Gold Rush, specimens like this weren’t highly valued for their rarity. Gold was simply worth its weight and nothing more. As a result, 99% of the gold that was dug up during the height of the Gold Rush was melted down. Specimens like this were sent off to the refinery without a second thought…




Obviously, you can’t put a true value on a collection like this. This is the definition of priceless.

If you were to auction them off, some of these individual specimens would easily bring over $100,000 each. Some of the larger crystalline pieces could possibly be valued at $250,000 or more.

Even if priced just for the gold content alone, there would be millions of dollars here. Luckily, this gold belongs to the American people, and it is on permanent display here at the museum.


Go See it!


Many people are surprised to learn that visiting the Smithsonian Museum is completely FREE!

The gold display is located within the Smithsonian Museum of National History, in the heart of Washington D.C.

The museum is open seven day a week, from 10:00am to 5:30pm, every day of the year except Christmas.

A few other Gold and Mineral Collections on Display:

Eastern Oregon Gold Collection

27-ounce Gold Nugget found in Montana

Hand of Faith Nugget in Las Vegas

16-Pound Crystalline Gold from California

Colorado Crystalline Gold on Display

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Updated: December 18, 2022 — 4:21 am
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