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  • Use your mouse to rotate the gold nugget by clicking and dragging either right or left. Click on the + to zoom in and on the - to zoom out.

    Nugget QTVR

  • The gold nugget has periodically been on display in the National Museum of American History.  Here the nugget was featured as a central focus in an exhibit on the Gold Rush.

    A Dark Case: the Gold Nugget on Display

  • When Curator David Shayt escorted the gold nugget to Coloma, California for the celebration of the susquicentennial anniversary of James Marshall's discovery, Governor Pete Wilson and his wife were among the visitors to view the nugget.

    Honored Visitors: Gov. Pete Wilson views the Nugget

  • In this response, Secretary Walcott explains to Senator Shortridge that the nugget is the property of the federal government.  Therefore, the request of the Pioneer Society to return the nugget to California.

    Careful Consideration: the Nugget Remains at the Smithsonian

  • In June of 1848, Colonel Sutter presented Marshall's first-find scale of gold to Capt. Joseph L. Folsom, U.S. Army Assistant Quartermaster at Monterey. Folsom had journeyed to Northern California to verify the gold claim for the U.S. Government.  In August of that year, as evidence of the find, the gold nugget and other samples of California gold to Washington, D.C., for delivery to President James K. Polk and for preservation at the National Institute. This letter from Folsom accompanied the sample and testified to it's veracity.

    Paper Trail: the Transmission Letter

  • This close up image of the nugget dramatically illustrates its small size.

    In Perspective: the Gold Nugget to Scale

  • Do you have a sense of the relationship between the miners and owners in Coloma and the native peoples of the area?

  • What understanding would you like visitors to take away from an exhibit on the gold nugget?

  • How would you design a display with the nugget?

  • Can you tell us about taking the nugget back to Coloma, California?

  • Are there competing claims to the possession of the first nugget?

  • How did the nugget come to be in the collection of the museum?

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