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Two Unique Gold Collections

Last Updated: 2nd Sep 2016

By Larry Maltby

The largest nugget in the Sexauer collection, 10.2 x 5.1 x 3.2 cm, Weight 21.6 troy ounces, discovered in American Creek.




The Arthur J. Sexauer Alaskan Gold Nugget Collection

In 1979 I walked into the Greater Detroit Gem and Mineral Show and found that gold specimens were dominant throughout the many displays in the room. Near the front was a display with a spectacular gold nugget watch chain and an array of gold nuggets, all from Alaska. There was very little information about the display and I inquired to find out who brought it in. I found out that the show committee did not know that the display was coming. A man walked in with a brief case and asked if he could display his gold nuggets and said that he wanted to remain anonymous. Of course, he was quickly provided with a case.

I photographed the watch chain and 18 of the nuggets without much hope of finding out more. Recently, while doing some research on some other gold specimens, I came across a description of auction lot No. 8181 at Bonhams. The description showed a photo of the gold nugget watch chain and 31 other gold nuggets complete with historical information. A “bonanza” of information!


Alaskan gold nugget watch chain

Alaska, USA
The watch chain is made up of 15 gold nuggets found in the American Creek near Manley Hot Springs, Alaska by Oscar Enstrom. A note in the display case gives the total nugget weight at about 17 troy ounces. The chain was owned by Colonel Johnson, an official of the Alaskan Railway in the 1930’s. When talk of embezzlement within the company started, Johnson quickly moved to South America. When Johnson passed away, a vault in British Columbia was opened and the watch and chain was found. It is 18 inches long with an Elgin open-faced pocket watch at one end and a rare railroad switch key at the other.


Gold nuggets from Alaska

Alaska, USA
Gold nuggets from Alaska

Alaska, USA


Gold nuggets from Alaska

Alaska, USA
Gold nuggets from Alaska

Alaska, USA


This nugget in the Sexauer collection (7.0 x 5.7 x 1.3 cm, weight 8.1 troy ounces) was found in Emma Creek near Bettles, Alaska. It was acquired from Bill Nordeen in 1968.
This nugget in the Sexauer collection (5.7 x 3.1 x 1.3 cm, weight 6.4 troy ounces) was Jimmy Lee’s “worry Stone”. He operated a restaurant in Fairbanks and carried the nugget in his pocket for 20 years. It is said that during that time he wore almost 2 ounces off of the nugget. It was acquired from Jimmy Lee in 1974.


This nugget in the Sexauer collection (5.7 x 5.7 x 2.5 cm, weight 10.7 troy ounces) was found in American Creek. It was acquired in 1972.
This nugget in the Sexauer collection (5.1 x 3.8 x 1.3 cm, weight 3.5 troy ounces) was found in American Creek. It was acquired from Al Linter in 1972.


Of the 31 nuggets included in the collection only 18 were photographed at Detroit in October of 1979. At Bonhams, each of the nuggets was numbered and a descriptive paragraph was provided, however, the nuggets were randomly positioned in two photos and were not numbered. The verbal descriptions were ambiguous and difficult to match with the photos taken in Detroit. Only five of the nuggets were matched with the data and described in detail here. Some generalizations follow:

The total weight of the 31 nuggets was about 155 troy ounces with an average weight of 5 troy ounces.

The largest nugget is 10.2 x 5.1 x 3.2 cm, Weight 21.6 troy ounces.
The smallest nugget is 2.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 cm, weight 0.62 troy ounces.

Only 15 of the nuggets had locality information. (6) from Emma Creek, (4) from American Creek,(2) from Long Creek, (2) from the Goodpasture River, (1) from Jack Wade Creek.

The collection was owned by Arthur J. Sexauer, a business man from Fairbanks, Alaska. It was displayed at the University of Alaska Museum from 1973 to 1977. In October of 1979 the collection was put on display at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas where it remained until 2006 when it was sold at Bonhams. It was displayed at the Detroit Show just prior to being put on permanent display at the Casino.


The John Chiorso Gold Collection



Nugget Casino, Gold Display 1954 - 2010

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Between 1954 and 2010 the Nugget Casino in Carson City, Nevada displayed one of the finest gold collections in the United States. The collection was originally put together by John Chiorso of Sonora, California, in the 1930’s. The collection consisted of 170 specimens including gold nuggets, gold leaf and crystalline gold with a total weight of 313 troy ounces.

The collection was acquired by Richard Graves who had cases built in the wall of the lobby in his casino to display the collection when it opened in 1954. The collection remained on display until it was sold in2010 to an undisclosed buyer.

The specimens were photographed at the Casino in 1975 however, there were no labels to confirm the locations where the specimens were mined or found. The fact that Mr. Chiorso lived in Sonora, California suggests that the specimens likely came from the “Mother Load” country of California.

References:
Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 10, 2010
The Union Democrat, Sonora, California, Published Nov 29, 2010 / Updated Aug 23, 2015


Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA
Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA


Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA


Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA


Gold displayed at the Nugget Casino, Carson City, Nevada, 1975

Carson City, Nevada, USA




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Comments

I really enjoyed the article but measurements would have been nice. Even just estimates!
David K Joyce

David K. Joyce
3rd Sep 2016 3:40am
David,

Yes it would have been nice to have the size and location of all of these specimens. The photos were taken a long time ago. As I recall all of the crystallized and leaf gold were full sized cabinet specimens. Because they were not labeled with localities, I could not upload them to the data base. Instead they were uploaded to the “other” category. Because of the history of both collections, I thought that it was worthwhile to document the collections in a Mindat article. Perhaps the specimens will resurface and a future Mindater will make the connection to this.


Larry Maltby
3rd Sep 2016 10:28pm

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