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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Gold with petzite
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Catalog Number NMNH 176204-00
Locality Mockingbird mine, California, United States

Gift of Coralyn W. Whitney in 2014.

Due to volcanoes, tectonic pressure, and erosion over millions of years, gold became highly concentrated in the mountains and gravel beds along the rivers and streams of California. Gold was found in California in 1848, and the Gold Rush (1848-1855) began as people started flocking to the state to strike it rich. Beautiful and durable, a symbol of wealth and power, gold has long been one of the most desired metals. Natural gold comes in many spectacular shapes - crystals, ribbons, wires, and nuggets. This specimen from the Mockingbird Mine is a rare and unique example of crystallized gold, and one of the finest known from this locality.


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