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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Jewelry > Gold > Famous Gold Nuggets > The Welcome Stranger



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Famous Gold Nuggets
 The Welcome Stranger

 This nugget is the largest known to date in Victoria and was found on the 5th of February 1869, approximately 15 kilometres to the northwest of Dunolly, near a mining town called Moliagul.

The Welcome Stranger

 The finder, John Deason, and a companion Richard Oates located the nugget 3 centimetres below the surface within the roots of a stringybark tree. 

 The nugget weighed 2316 troy ounces* (about 72 kg) and at the time of discovery was the largest known gold nugget in the world, measuring 60 by 45 by 19 centimetres. The site of discovery is marked by a stone monument.

 A famous gold discovery was made by Richard Oates and John Deason, who arrived from England in 1854 and settled on land in central Victoria at Dunolly. They worked the land full-time and looked for gold part-time.

  On 5 February 1869, while Oates was working in a paddock nearby, Deason worked the claim removing four loads of washdirt for puddling. On the fourth load his pick broke when it struck something hard just under the earth's surface. Thinking it was a boulder, he tried to prise it out of the earth but broke the handle trying to get it out.

  When he eventually got it out of the earth, he discovered it was a large nugget - 61 cm by 31 cm. Afraid of theft, he and Oates hid it in their hut under the fireplace till dark, then took it to the bank manager's office where everyone was amazed at its size. The local blacksmith had to be called in to break it into two, so that it could be weighed on the scales that were not big enough.

  Oates and Deason were paid 19,068 pounds for the nugget, the largest alluvial gold ever found in the world, which became known as "Welcome Stranger".

 The world's largest recorded nugget is “The Welcome Stranger”. The find occurred at Black Lead (or Black Reef), Bull-dog Gully, Moliagul and was broken up on an anvil at nearby Dunolly in Victoria, Australia, to be weighed in that towns bank. The finders were John Deason and Richard Oats, the find occurred on 5th February, 1869. Different variations of the find location and ounce quantity exist. For many years the most popular ounce rating was 2,284 ounces (71.01 kilos).

 However the publication “Gold Nuggets of Victoria” from the Department of mines, Melbourne, Victoria lists the price of gold at the time as four pounds, one shilling and sixpence, noting that the cheque for the nugget amounted to nine thousand, five hundred and eighty three pounds, which equals 2,380 ounces.

 A reason for the discrepancy may come from the admittance by Deason and Oats that pieces were broken off the main piece. It is possible that the main entire nugget weighed 2,284 ounces and additions from the original find but not still attached accounted for the total presented to the bank.

 The main point is that (without splitting hairs) Deason and Oats in 1869, in Victoria found about two and a quarter thousand ounces of gold in one piece which became known as "THE WELCOME STRANGER NUGGET" and this is, as far as we know, the world's largest nugget.

Welcome Stranger Nugget on Reverse of a 1988 Australian One Ounce Gold Nugget Coin
Welcome Stranger Nugget


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