A historic auction held in Deadwood last Saturday saw a 7-ounce gold nugget sell for 4 times its value.
When Potato Creek Johnny found the 7-plus troy ounce gold nugget named for him in 1929, he said it looked like a woman’s leg. Johnny hoped someday to find the other gold “leg”.
Deadwood History executive director Mary Kopco says the prospector’s dream came true with the assistance of The Clock Shop in Rapid City.
“They said if we would allow a mold to be made of Potato Creek Johnny’s nugget, they would donate all the placer gold to be melted and made into a whole new solid gold nugget,” says Kopco. “And this is the only solid gold nugget that will ever be made this size. So, it’s…it’s an exact replica. In fact, sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference (laughs).”
Mary Kopco adds that Identification numbers of both gold nuggets does guarantee that they won’t be confused.
With 200 people in the audience, bidding for the Potato Creek Johnny 2 nugget began at $10,000 – the estimated market value of the gold by weight.
After 4 minutes of fast-paced bidding, the Potato Creek Johnny 2 gold nugget sold to John Christopher Fine, a resident of New York State, for $40,000.. Fine says neither the monetary value of the gold nor its historic significance outweighed the auction’s cause: raising money for the Wounded Warrior’s Project.
"The thing that counts is that we’re helping those folks that were wounded for us, served and sacrificed for us,” Fine comments. “That’s the most important thing. The gold has no value. The thing that’s if most value is the sacrifice that those men and women made for us each day...and every day.”
John Christopher Fine also received the mold used to make the Potato Creek Johnny 2 gold nugget – broken to ensure that no other duplicates can be made.