The 3 Biggest Gold Finds In History

A recent article from CNBC estimated that all the gold ever mined would fit nicely inside two Olympic sized swimming pools. It may not seem like a large amount, but has been enough to support a multi-billion dollar industry of gold investing and jewelry collecting among consumers. Much gold has yet to be mined from below the earth’s surface, and remaining finds have yet to be uncovered. Below are three of the largest gold finds in history, including some of the largest gold deposits, nuggets and collections of the precious metal that has already been converted into jewelry and related goods [for more gold news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].

Witwatersrand Basin

The Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa is estimated to contain 40% of all gold mined during recorded history. At the time, it was estimated that a third of all unmined gold in the world still resided in the the basin. Many years of mining have brought that gold to the surface, but the deposits beneath an ancient sea bed still easily qualify as one of the largest finds in human history. The north tip of the basin starts in the city of Johannesburg and runs southwest for what appears to be hundreds of miles. Sources have speculated that the gold was more than three billion years old, which also qualifies the deposits as some of the oldest in the world.

The Welcome Stranger

Gold finds also focus on individual pieces of gold or nuggets that are found. Back in 1869 in Australia, a nugget that was named the Welcome Stranger was discovered just below the ground’s surface. The nugget measured nearly 2,300 troy ounces, or just above 70 kilograms. For convenience and to protect against such a large nugget being stolen, the Welcome Stranger was broken down into smaller gold pieces. The largest gold nugget in existence today is thought to be the Hand of Faith, which happens to be on display at the Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Hand of Faith measures less than 1,000 troy ounces, or nearly 62 pounds, but still qualifies as a massive single piece of gold and one of the largest that will ever be on display to the public [see also 10 Gold Miners That Pay a Dividend].

A Giant Aftermarket Find

Another popular category of gold finds consists of gold that has already been mined and turned into coins, jewelry or related goods meant for human use. Back in 2009, in Staffordshire, England, a prospector with a metal detector uncovered an estimated 1,500 gold artifacts and pieces. The estimated total was five kilograms, which pales in comparison to some of the largest nuggets found, such as those above, but represents a staggering find by most other measures. This find also lent great insight into “Anglo-Saxon England,” as explained by a historian that was interviewed at the time of the find.

Bottom Line

Gold will always be popular because of its rarity and uses that stem from industrial purposes to its popularity as jewelry. The largest gold finds have made the initial discoverers considerable wealth, and future prospectors are fast on the trail for the next big finds in human history.

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

About Ryan Fuhrmann

Ryan Fuhrmann, CFA, is a freelance financial writer and investor. He settled on a pursuit of investing after taking a class entitled "Security Analysis" while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has since adopted a value-based philosophy toward the markets. His work and interviews have been quoted in the press and investment publications including "Barron's" and local business journals. Ryan is also an advisor to Butler University's student managed investment portfolio and co-hosts the Smart Money Show on Saturday mornings on Freedom 95.9 WFDM in Indianapolis.
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