Golden Flakes

The term “gold dust” conjures an image of a sand-like or coarse salt substance, but this was merely a convenient Gold Rush name for various-sized, small gold particles that included pea-sized nuggets and fish-scale-sized flakes. Miners typically carried their gold dust in leather pouches or rolled in handkerchiefs, using it as currency to purchase food, equipment, clothing, or a ticket to traveling shows of live-theater entertainment.  A “pinch” of gold held between the thumb and forefinger usually equated $16 in 1849 although gold values fluctuated, and many a novice was “fleeced” by a merchant or saloon owner whose pinch was larger than the norm. In the early days of the Gold Rush before brawlers and thieves appeared in the gold camps, it was common for miners to leave their gold pouches carelessly laying about on merchant’s counter tops while visiting a town, or trusting friends to hold it if they expected to be away from their claims for an extended period.


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