The Placer County Gold Collection Artifact Highlight #13

The Placer County Gold Collection provides an exceptional glimpse of gold in its unrefined state. These 194.11 troy ounces of gold include rare crystalline specimens, gold in quartz, and examples of gold nuggets. All of it was mined from Placer County soil.

In the 1850s, gold was circulated as currency. Gold found in Placer County was sold to the U.S. Mint in San Francisco and coined into $5, $10, $20 pieces.

This changed with the introduction of the “greenback” dollar, the paper currency printed in green that was issued by the United States during the American Civil War.

By the 1930s, gold was taken out of circulation and many miners sold their collections to the government for cash. In 1921 L. G. Garbe sold the five largest pieces of gold in the collection to Placer County for $3,506 ($25/oz).

By 1959 the collection grew to 48 specimens. The County Treasurer’s Office managed the collection, exhibiting it periodically throughout the state.

Auburn Journal May 23, 1973

In 1996, the entire collection was appraised at $343,500.00 based on weight and historical relevance.

On November 12, 1996, a resolution by the County Board of Supervisors allowed for the relocation of the gold to the Placer County Museum for permanent display.

Press-Tribune January 31, 1997

The gold is currently on display at the Placer County Museum in Auburn's Historic Courthouse.