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kapokgz

Can anyone tell me the story about it?

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I was lucky to find this button with GB pro on the trail nearby the court house of Downieville. :D It weights 4.8g, and It is the first piece kind of "natural" gold found by myself after a year. I want to know more about it, such as how old is it? Who made it? What was it used for? Was it used among miners only? etc. Thx.

Lu

post-27371-0-17911100-1443820011_thumb.j

post-27371-0-72571500-1443820023_thumb.j

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Doesn't look like gold to me, but it may just be from the picture. Interesting find if it is gold.

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It's hard to tell from just photos not only what it is, but also how it was formed.

That being said, assuming it's gold, my thoughts is that it maybe what is left from fine gold/mercury, e.g. amalgam that most of the mercury was removed by putting the amalgam into a cloth, chamois, etc. and twisting it to squeeze the mercury through the material and leaving behind a sorta "button" of unrefined gold that has been cemented together over time. or.......... :idunno:

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Skip,

Thanks for your insight. That could be one possibility for it I think.

I was with Lu when she found it. It was on a path not far from where I found my 1/2oz nugget. That nugget did have some mercury on it when found even tho it was lodged in a crack which was filled with volcanic ash holding it in.

As soon as I saw the button and held it and looked at the numbers on the GB Pro and my 3030 I knew it was gold. We got back to camp and was told by a local this was a button that could have been used as 'currency' rather than use raw gold. He said the patina indicated it was old and there should be no attempt at cleaning it. He also said that if we documented where it was from (near the Downieville Courthouse), kept the date information when found then it would be made more valuable because these miners buttons are rare.

We are beginning to research when they could have been used in that area and I was hoping an 'old timer' here could help her tell the story of the button.

If no Old Timers help ... how about Hoser John? :4chsmu1:

Mitchel

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I found one that's brass and about 50% bigger-why brass??-god only knows. I hope Skip is right for your sake as my mercury buttons look quite the same. Cool find any way it goes. John

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Matt, Skip & John,

So nice to have your replies. :shake2: I still wish it could be gold. Maybe I can take it to the coin store and test it?

Lu

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We took the button to the Wilshire coin store, they tested and told it is 14K gold with 19% silver. But they didn't have any further ideas about the button.

Lu

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Strikes me as more of a melt rather than squeezin's..

Tiny dore bar to keep all the dust & fines together..?

SA

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Looks like Amalgam sq-ease for sure but the Heat would had killed that.

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SA,

You are right. It is solid.

When we found it the ground was hard around it and Lu was chipping at the 'spot' so I think her pick put the scratch on one side.

I took my bigger pick and chipped around it and then it was free but it was nearly on the surface of the path. I think less than 1 inch from the top.

I am still struck by the idea that it was melted into that shape and used as a 'miner's coin' because all the quartz and rock was removed from it and that would make it spendable. If so ... why are there so few found?

Nothing comes up in Google yet when I look for such a use of gold buttons.

Mitchel

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My thoughts that it could be from squeezing out mercury comes from the cloth like "wrinkles" on the one side, which I can't think of any other way it could get that particular texture, if it were melted or smelted it would be a smooth button. it's been said that mercury will dissolve gold to a degree and if so that in itself could fuse the gold into the button Lu found making it a solid button. another thought is that it started out as a squeezing and then put into a fire to burn off any mercury left on it which if not quite hot enough to totally melt the gold could leave the outside texture as it was but possibly fuse the gold into a more solid form.

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Mitchel / Lu,


I'm thinking the reason we don't see more of them is because what you have there is something that wasn't a common practice..


The clue to my reasoning comes from the results of your having the item tested/analized.. The resultant 80% gold / 20% silver content strikes me as being a 'fairly common' mixture for latter 18th century dore bars -- meaning CA gold rush dore as opposed to earlier Mexican dore..


It took me a while to find this link (I HAVE to start doing a better job at annotating my bookmarks,) but here is a link to a pdf titled "Categories Of Gold Bars.." It contains bars both cast and minted.. Check about halfway down the pages and you'll come across something called a Tezabi bar, theoretically 99.9% pure from Pakistan:




www.goldbarsworldwide.com/PDF/BG_10_Categories.pdf


Since it takes at least a smelter to make dore (which costs $$s to build & operate,) and since most of the dore made post-1850'ish was just another way the larger mines got their product to refiners, I'm guessing that button y'all found is something an indie miner got knocked out as a favor by his buddy who worked at a company smelter -- or something like that..


Instead of searching gold buttons try searching gold bars or dore bars instead, and probably historical references to early gold coin manufacturing as well, since the way the Tezabi bars are mfg'd supposedly closely resembles the way the early Turkish gold coins were produced..


Merely my thoughts,


SA


PS: Skip, your reply posted while I was typing.. Check the photo at the supplied link.. I like your logic, and frankly I was surprised upon re-seeing the Tezabi photo -- since cast bars were not what I was looking for initially..


PPS: Sorry, link didn't shorten, again.. When you get to the 404 error page just type http:// in front of the www and it'll get you there.. sa

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Al,

I also tried to fix the link but can't get it to work.

The Tezabi bars while at first glance do seem to resemble the button that Lu found, but upon closer inspection it appears that they have a distinct design on them unlike the button found by Lu which just appears to have folds/wrinkles such as a cloth or chamois would have which is why I think it was a "squeezing".

Tezabi bars (I have tried to find a larger photo to post but unable as of yet to find one).

Tezabi_Bars.gif

Lu's piece

post-27371-0-17911100-1443820011.jpg

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I think AU hit it . When heating to drive of the Hg they may have got it just hot enough to fuse.

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OK -- I can keep an open mind about how this button was formed.. But first let me clear up a silly mistake (or two) I made, while also injecting a couple of facts into the conversation..


Mitchel said 14K Au + 19% Ag.. I rounded to 80 / 20.. Incorrect on my part, because 14K gold is only 58+% pure.. Add the 19% silver and, oops, we find we're missing nearly 23% volume.. Where and what's the other material(s) and how did it get there..?


While the idea of a twisted chamois being responsible for leaving the markings on the button is interesting, to me it's also fairly unrealistic -- at least as far as the end result we're presently observing.. I simply cannot imagine any other possible way for forming a solid button of the nature we're seeing without the use of a smelter / oven (on-site or at a community assay office,) along with the addition of fluxes, a carbon source, powdered lead oxide, a refractory crucible and considerable heat..


The item we're looking upon has to be the end result of the fusion stage in an Au analysis.. The additional "missing" weight is lead reduced from the lead oxide.. And the "chamois wrinkles" are a creation of the cooling process..


If anyone has another or better fact-based explaination for this button's exisatnce, I'm all ears..


SA


EDIT: Mitchel -- the answer to your Q about why so few of these are found is because the button is an interim item, not an end unto itself.. They went for cupellation in porous bone ash crucibles.. The lead melts, oxidizes to lead oxide, which in turn melts and is drawn into the pores of the cupel via capillary attraction.. What remains are the precious metals, which now get final content analysis..

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Al I caught the math mistake but didn't say so, I also think the missing piece of info, the 23% of Lu's find would help add to how this button came to be.

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Al,

Earlier in the year we went to Tonopah, Nevada and just north of there is a ghost town called Miller's. It was there smelting area for all of the silver.

We hunted there and found a few coins but I also picked up some of the crucibles that they used for the assay samples. We didn't find any buttons there.

One of the other remaining parts of the button is iron. The other elements are minor. I didn't remember them but I could go back and get the exact percentages if it helps to identify this button.

I've also noticed a picture of some melts from an article by Scott Harn in the ICMJ for October. It shows gold that was not separated cleanly and then some other buttons. They don't have the characteristics of Lu's Button.

We'll keep looking for a more complete answer.

Perhaps this was just an amateur effort at melting some gold and it turned out like this.

It seems to be more of a mystery than first imagined.

Mitchel

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Lu / Mitchel,


It is indeed a mystery, one that is sending me back to school.. :WOW:


I'm trapped somewhere between how they assayed in the mid-latter 1800s vs how it would be done just a couple/few decades later.. Can't find my melt point chart; need to dig one up online.. Haven't seen the current ICMJ (except to look at the cover online to see Chris' scale-o-nugs there) cos I like reading it hard copy.. Ergo haven't yet read Scott's article..


The biggie tho is how did iron end up in the button's analysis, since they usually slag a completed fusion melt in an iron mold..?


Stay tuned.. :D


SA

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Thanks Homie -- Good precious metals info..

What I've managed to misplace tho is a chart containing melt points of natural metals and minerals..

There's only so many places I could have put it too, as in soooooo many, duhhh.. :grr01:

SA

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Swamp...., it's as simple as copying "melt points of natural metals and minerals" from your post and posting to Goggle search.

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Swamp...., it's as simple as copying "melt points of natural metals and minerals" from your post and posting to Goggle search.

Well, not quite as simple as it sounds, at least not for the chart I have (had?)..
It's easy enough to find element charts, both in periodic table format and AtoZ'd..
There are charts for metals alone too..
What's provong difficult is finding one for minerals / rocks, much less one having both metals & rocks..
The closest one I've been able to find is an XY single line graph that compares Moh's hardness to melt temp:
It's really slick and cool looking, but not exact (temps aren't actually given, just charted..)
The one I've misplaced must be something from the college daze someone knocked out,
which makes it at least, ummm, older..
Here's hoping the link contracts too.. If not, as always just add the http:// in front on the 404 page..
SA

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Hi everyone...I don't really know anything about smelting, But could it have been made from the metal splattering from being poured in a cold mold or something like that...

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Hi all:

This weekend I had the opportunity to show the 'button' to Kevin Hoagland who hosts the GPAA program Gold Trails. I recommend you watch it if you have not. He visits many parts of the United States and shares his knowledge which is vast about his 40 years of mining.

He looked at the button and said it looks like a 'stick pour.' So what is a stick pour you say? (That is what I said.)

It turns out a stick pour is made of gold that was stolen by workers at a mine. It was dory gold probably and they would take pinches of it and melt it or just take a stick and make an impression in the ground. They knew how big the stick was and how deep thus it would come close to the 5g weight. The sand mold made by the stick would give the button texture and the scratch mark on the top would be where the end of the stick left an impression.

This explanation seemed to answer all of the questions about it. (14k, rough texture, size, indentation on bottom)

It was a convenient way for a worker to steal. Just use your stick pours to buy some beers and food. Who would miss just a little gold?

Good story.

I accept it.

Mitchel

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