Royal Australian Mint kicks off 2020 with a homage to the world’s biggest alluvial gold nugget find

It was in March last year that the Perth Mint launched its Welcome Stranger golden nugget bullion coin. Not our favourite of 2019 if we’re perfectly honest, as an amorphous blob of metal isn’t the most aesthetic subject for a coin, but nevertheless, this huge golden mass is back on another coin, although this time from the Royal Australian Mint, and in proof form.

The RAM has decided to embellish the nugget with a mix of surrounding elements to liven up the staid looking subject. A large Chinese dancing dragon appeared in Bendigo, Victoria during the Gold Rush, and it was called Gum Loong. A similar dragon, supposedly the longest imperial dragon in the world still performs in Bendigo today. The coin designer has chosen to represent the ‘beast’ through its stylised movements rather than as an more obvious depiction.

We think it’s a better looking effort than the Perth Mint issue, but still, we can’t help thinking that nuggets just aren’t great subjects for coins, despite the obvious connection. Two variants o offer. A partially gilded silver coin ($70.00 AUD) weighs in at a third of an ounce, while a tenth of an ounce of unadorned gold ($300.00 AUD) completes the precious metal selection.

A base metal set of four, each carrying a different mintmark (Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney), is also available at a considerably cheaper price ($27.50 AUD). All are available to order now.

THE WELCOME STRANGER NUGGET

Discovered by a pair of Cornish immigrants to Australia in 1869, the Welcome Stranger gold nugget remains to this day the largest alluvial gold nugget ever found. Prospectors John Deason and Richard Oates discovered this huge lump of gold sitting just 3 cm below the surface near the base of a tree at a location almost 15 km away from Dunolly in Victoria, at a place called Moliagul.

Weighing in at 109.59 kilograms, it was broken down on an anvil, into three pieces, as there were no scales large enough to weigh it in one piece. While the nugget would have a value close to $2.1m UKP today, Deason and Oates were paid the equivalent of just £9,381 for the nugget – still a substantial sum. It was reported that 70.5591 kg of smelted gold were recovered from the nugget, which were sent to Melbourne as ingots, which were loaded on board the steamship Reigate for transportation back to the Bank of England.

There are replicas of the nugget in the City Museum, Treasury Place, Melbourne, and in the Dunolly Rural Transaction Center. Both of the nuggets finders lived to ripe old ages in Australia.

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $1 Australia $10 Australia
COMPOSITION 0.9999 silver 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 11.66 grams 3.11 grams
DIMENSIONS 25.0 mm 17.53 mm
FINISH Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS Gilding None
MINTAGE 5,500 1,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
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ROYAL AUSTRALIAN MINT