19th century
2.5 in HIGH x 16 in WIDE x 16 in DEEP
Gift of Laetitia Meyer

Early California Art and History, Science Special Gallery, December 2007 - September 2009

Gold pans.  a):  sheet metal gold pan, rusted.  16" at rim, 10.75" at bottom.  b):  sheet metal gold pan, rusted.  15.625" rim, 10.5" at bottom.  No damage other than rusting.

From the History Information Station:

Object: Sheet-iron gold mining pan, for mining placer gold.

Gold was frequently found at bends in the river, where the shifting currents left sandy bars with gold lying among the other stones.  Called placer gold, these nuggets were recovered by panning.  Panning for gold is both easy and difficult.  To do it, take a pan--any pan will do, even a kitchen skillet or a carved-out piece of wood.  Scoop out some river-bottom and some water.  Gently shake the contents until the soil separates; because gold is heavier than most of the other parts of the river bottom, it will settle first.
Though not as back-breaking as other types of  mining, panning is extremely tedious and is also wet work.  Miners stood in icy water all day for only a few pieces of gold.  One miner's complaint was that "I made $10.00 damn easy by working damn hard."

More History Information:

      "I do not care, for I have seen the elephant."

Edward Buffam left the Army to seek his fortune as a miner.  On his first day he struck a crevasse of gold.  "I shall never forget the delight.  Eureka! How my heart beat."  Buffam was lucky; most miners had to work much harder to gain as much.

The experience, both the hardship and the wonder, was known to every miner as "Seeing the Elephant".  The story to which it referred goes like this:  A farmer who had never seen an elephant went to market when the circus was in town.  On the way he met the circus parade, led by the elephant.  The farmer was enchanted, but his horses bolted, overturning the wagon and scattering broken eggs and bruised vegetables.  When asked if he minded the loss of his produce he  replied, "I don't give a hang, for I have seen the elephant.

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