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Two giant Alaska gold nuggets sell for a combined $172,725 at Holabird auction
Giant 38.39-ounce gold nugget that resembles the shape of Australia, mined at Ganes Creek, Alaska, about 150 miles east-southeast from Unalakleet, on the Norton Sound ($99,175).

RENO, NEV.- Two giant-size gold nuggets mined in Alaska during the days of the Gold Rush – one a 38.39-ounce nugget roughly in the shape of Australia, the other a 33.83-ounce nugget in the shape of a skull – sold for a combined $172,725 at an auction held October 4th thru 7th by Holabird Western Americana Collections, online and in the Reno gallery at 3555 Airway Drive.

The gold nuggets were the top lots in a four-day Americana auction bursting with more than 3,l00 lots in a wide array of collecting categories – to include petroliana, aviation, World War II, railroadiana, Native Americana, stock certificates, mining, minerals, coins and gold. A special section was devoted to dealers, with great bargains lotted specifically with re-sellers in mind.

“We called this our fall season second chance auction, because for anyone who missed any of our great 2019 sales, this was their second chance to fill the holes in their collections,” said Fred Holabird of Holabird Western Americana Collections. “Bidders absolutely heeded the call, as we had solid participation live in the gallery and especially online. Overall it was a fantastic sale.”

The 38.39-ounce gold nugget that resembled the shape of Australia was mined at Ganes Creek, Alaska, about 150 miles east-southeast from Unalakleet, on the Norton Sound, which is 150 miles southeast of Nome. Ganes Creek is known for its large nuggets and there are several “Pay” nugget finding operations still there today. The nugget, large by any standard, sold for $99,175.

The other nugget, 33.83 ounces and shaped nearly identical to the skull used in pirate logos, was found in Alaska’s Chandler District, along the Squaw Creek drainage. It’s still active today; placer gold has been produced there since around 1900. The nugget, measuring 2 inches by 3 ¼ inches, hammered for $77,550, a figure helped along by its crowd-pleasing pirate skull shape.

Following are additional highlights from the auction. For those unable to attend the sale in person, online bidding was facilitated by,,, and All prices quoted here include the buyer’s premium.
Day 1, October 4th, contained 772 lots of textiles, Native Americana, art, music, maps, foreign collectibles, sports, military and aviation, railroadiana, postal history, Wells Fargo and more.

A star lot was a nice and unusual Mexican rawhide saddle bag from about the 1940s (or earlier), similar to the ones Pony Express riders had, with leather tassels and really long leather strapping ($7,187). Also, a group of 14 letters exchanged between a brother and a sister between 1864-66, in Genoa, Nevada, plus a Gold Rush-era gold buckle and a 15kt gold ring, finished at $2,125.

Other Day 1 lots included a map of the “New World” (New York and New England, to include Manhattan) from 1606, shown as “New France” (La Nuova Francia), with characterizations of “Americans” (settlers, Indians, etc.) brought $2,000; and a pair of Native American “Gauntlet Gloves” made from elk skin with elaborate, multi-colored beadwork, made circa 1900-1920 by one of the Northern Plains Tribes of Montana, plus a pair of tiny fantasy moccasins, made $500.

Day 2, October 5th, was packed with 736 lots of marbles, bottles, saloon items, cigar and tobacco, cowboy collectibles, firearms, weaponry, tokens, numismatics (to include coins, currency, dies, medals, so-called dollars and general items), toys, World’s Fair and Expos, political memorabilia, and general and foreign Americana (Australia, Canada and Panama).

A large white enamel sign from the Automobile Club of Southern California, circa 1910-1920, 2 feet by 3 feet and showing the mileage from an older country road (no longer in use) to Lida, Big Pine, Goldfield and Tonopah (Nev.), in very good shape for its age, knocked down for $5,490.

Also sold on Day 2 were an 1892-CC Morgan silver dollar with full eagle feathers on the reverse but flat hair on the obverse, indicating a weak strike ($938); and an octagonal 1876 California fractional gold half-dollar coin, BG 949, R4, in proof-like condition on the reverse side ($468).

Day 3, Sunday, October 6th, featured over 800 lots of gold, jewelry, minerals, mining (foreign, general and geographically sorted), fossils, collectible spoons, Gold Rush memorabilia and more. A top lot was a circa 1900 ladies’ solitaire diamond ring set in 14kt gold and having a one-carat, European cut diamond. The ring, having outstanding quality, slipped on a new finger for $2,684.

Other Day 3 stars included the 1905 Atlas of the Goldfield, Tonopah & Bullfrog Mining Districts of Nevada, with claim maps and a directory of all the mining companies operating in the districts at the time, 93 pages plus five large color fold-out maps ($2,625); and a spectacular eye-catching 1871 stock certificate for the Monitor and Northwestern Mining Company of Milwaukee (Wis.), for five shares issued to Sarah Mattison, with a vignette of Monitor Mountain, Calif. ($1,875).

Day 4, Monday, October 7th, contained 818 lots of calendars, cameras, fire items, directories, transportation (planes, trains, automobiles), and bargains and dealer specials in all categories. A Toliver Aerial Navigation Company (Phoenix, Ariz.) stock certificate, issued on July 28th, 1911 for 100 shares to “M. Corekey”, signed by the president (“CH Toliver”) and assistant secretary, with a fabulous vignette of a flying machine over a town (possibly Phoenix) gaveled for $562.

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