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Gold Panner's Manual

Gold Panner's Manual

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Gold Panner's Manual

156 pages
2 heures
May 15, 2012


With the economy as uncertain as ever, gold panning is making a comeback. Why not pick up a piece or two of surprisingly simple equipment and check that stream by your campsite? The techniques, the pans, the pickaxes and the educated guessing required to pan gold haven't changed much since the Klondike Gold Rush. Garnet Basque's Gold Panner's Manual explains every aspect of gold panning and prospecting. As you'll likely be competing with other prospectors, knowledge will give you the edge, and Gold Panner's Manual goes through all the necessary (and fascinating) background on gold's formation to support your understanding of the likeliest places nuggets or flakes will have surfaced or settled. Basque describes the ins and outs of the equipment you need, the tell-tale signs of gold and how to stake a claim. Find out how to spot a placer site and size up a valley for the best spot to start panning.

First printed in 1974, Gold Panner's Manual remains a strong seller. This edition's text and images have been thoroughly reviewed, refreshed and updated.

May 15, 2012

À propos de l'auteur

Garnet Basque (1945-1994) operated Canadian West magazine from 1985 to 1994, as well as Sunfire Publications in Langley, BC. He published numerous titles about lost treasures and frontier settlements, under various imprints.

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Gold Panner's Manual - Garnet Basque



Gold throughout the Ages

Gold has been known and valued since prehistoric times. Because gold occurs freely in nature and has a distinctive appearance, it is believed to have been one of the first metals discovered by ancient man.

Picture the misty remoteness of a thousand centuries ago, when a scantily clad caveman scavenging for food became the first human to set eyes upon the precious metal. Attracted by the bright glint of placer gold in an ancient streambed, the Stone Age prospector noted its weight, admired its fine and lustrous colour and possibly polished it against his rough animal-skin garments. As the centuries passed, people learned to mould and hammer the soft yellow metal into crude trinkets, then into rough forms of jewellery and eventually into exquisite, finely crafted pieces.

However, it was not until about 6,000 years ago that gold became readily available to man. By the year 5000 BC, working with gold had become a highly skilled art. The earliest gold jewellery known was found in Bulgaria. Graves in Varna contained bangles, beads and bracelets along with tools and other ornaments. Some Egyptian inscriptions showing gold being mined and refined were probably made before 4000 BC, and ancient gold mines discovered in Egypt are believed to be at least that old. Between 4000 and 3000 BC, Sumerian sun worshippers, who had created a disciplined religious organization in the southern part of ancient Mesopotamia, constructed towers sheathed in tons of gold. Beautifully crafted vessels of gold dating from around 3000 to 2340 BC have been unearthed at Ur in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). These fine examples of craftsmanship vividly prove the Sumarians’ skill with gold, silver and copper. In the Americas, a turquoise-and-gold bead necklace was discovered in the Lake Titicaca area of Peru in 2008 and has been dated to sometime between 2155 and 1936 BC.

By about 2340 BC, gold had become a highly prized commodity and was out of reach of the common person. It became a symbol of supreme power, being reserved for the priesthood and rulers. It was used in temples and the tombs of kings, to equip massive armies and to reward successful conquerors.

The Egyptians were the first to really exploit the larger known gold-mining regions of ancient times. One such area, Upper Egypt, consisted of a plateau some 60 miles wide that bordered the Red Sea for almost 200 miles from Philoteras to a point south of Berenice. The second region, known in antiquity as Nubia, stretched east and west between the Nile River and the Red Sea.

Although the Egyptians were not the first to discover gold, they were the first people to undertake an active, well-planned and wide-ranging search for it. They were well organized and carefully controlled the production and use of the precious metal. They also amassed much gold through conquests. The Sumerians lost their gold to the conquering Egyptians, who desired it for their dying pharaohs so that they might appease their 2,000 gods and buy immortality for their souls.

The Egyptians created ornaments, vessels, idols and jewellery with lavish decorations and great technical proficiency. Egyptian gold work dating from the Middle Kingdom, including gold jewellery with inlaid gems and gold objects recovered from the tomb of King Tutankhamen, are examples of the exquisite work done by Egypt’s goldsmiths. Tutankhamen’s tomb, which was discovered intact in 1922, contained thousands of objects including a gold, silver and jewelled throne, and gilded chariots. Tut’s mummy was enclosed in three nested coffins, all splendidly ornamented, with the innermost made of gold. The coffin, weighing 224 pounds of beaten gold and decorated inside and out, was for many years on display in Cairo. However, since the 1967 Arab–Israeli war, it has been kept in a secret hiding place.

The Egyptians also knew how to hammer gold into leaves so thin that over 250,000 such leaves, placed one atop the other, would make a pile only 1 inch thick!

King Menes, the first historic ruler of the dynasty of ancient Egypt, had gold cast into small half-ounce bars with his name imprinted on them. As these bars were legal tender, they could actually be considered a form of ancient money. In China, where gold was scarce, cubes of gold were used as money as early as 2100 BC.

Unfortunately, of the 5 million pounds of fine gold produced by the Egyptians or taken in conquest, very little has survived in its original form. A few magnificent bracelets from the 31st century BC, an exquisite hawk’s head of beaten gold from Hierakonpolis, the stunning personal jewels of Princess Khnumet and the treasures in the undisturbed tomb of King Tutankhamen are all that have survived to the present. The bracelets mentioned above came from the tomb of King Zer and are the earliest examples of Egyptian jewellery in existence.

The vast majority of fine Egyptian gold work had gone into their temples and elaborate tombs, and these locations were systematically looted by gangs or organized robbers. Tragically, these fabulous works of art were melted down into ingots, eventually turning up in the form of gold coins.

Gold work of the Aegean civilization, a Bronze Age culture that began on the island of Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland before 2500 BC, shows the many metal-working techniques (openwork, repoussé, embossing and inlaying) used by the craftsmen of that time. The Vaphio cups are the most outstanding treasures to have survived this period, although many fine examples of gold work (jewellery, death masks, drinking cups, vases, weapons and dress ornaments) have been found at Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns.

Because of its key geographical position at the crossroads of maritime traffic in the Aegean Sea, the island of Crete became the first nation in the eastern Mediterranean, other than Egypt, to come into possession of any notable quantities of gold. Crete obtained its gold through trade and in far-reaching travel, since there was no natural gold on the island.

These two intricate gold cups from Greece are believed to have been made in Crete around 1500 BC. Each is about 3.5 inches high and made of two layers of gold. One depicts wild bulls; the other, domesticated bulls.  I, SAILKO, CREATIVE COMMONS ATTRIBUTION 2.5 GENERIC

The gold work of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia (550–330 BC) is noted for its extreme opulence and the technical skill with which it was executed.

Gold, as previously stated, was frequently used for equipping armies. The crafty Persians, however, used portions of their reserves to bribe one potential enemy into war against another potential enemy. After a battle, one enemy would invariably be destroyed and the other would be so weakened by the conflict that the Persians encountered little difficulty in reclaiming their gold, plus all the treasures accumulated by their enemies.

Archaic Greek and Etruscan gold work dating from 700 to 500 BC was strongly influenced by Near Eastern designs. With its rich and barbaric imagery, Etruscan gold work was among the finest in the ancient world. Later Greek work featured exquisite filigree and combined delicate geometric ornaments with mythological figures. Roman gold work followed Greek forms but placed greater emphasis on massive proportions and elaborate detail.

In ancient times, gold changed hands frequently, mostly as a result of bloody wars or conquests. The Roman Emperor Trajan captured 500,000 pounds of gold from the Dacians in the two wars of AD 101–102 and AD 105–106. Dacia (now Romania) then became a Roman province.

Alexander the Great, one of the most powerful personalities of antiquity and one of the greatest generals of all time, seized the royal treasure of Susa, which contained 2 million pounds of gold and silver ingots and 500,000 pounds of gold coins. It is said that an army of mules and camels was needed to carry the treasure to Babylon.

Alexander’s wealth would probably have been the most bountiful in history had he been able to capture the royal treasure of Darius III, the Persian king. Darius was defeated in the battle of Issus (333 BC) and again in the battle of Gaugamela, near Arbela (331 BC), after twice underestimating Alexander’s strength. However, Darius succeeded in burying the royal treasure somewhere around Hamadan, midway between Baghdad and the Caspian Sea.

Although Alexander had the countryside torn asunder and ordered hundreds killed in his attempt to locate the Persian treasure (produced over several centuries) he found nothing. Future leaders, including Crassus, Mark Anthony, Augustus, Gaius, Germanicus and Nero, searched for the massive treasure. The occasional piece of jewellery, coins and a few ingots were uncovered, but the bulk of the royal treasure remains hidden. The search continued into modern times in the same general area.

Egypt remained the richest gold-producing area in the world until the conquering Romans began exploiting Spanish deposits. By the first century AD, Roman control of Spain was virtually complete, and it was here that Roman engineers performed astounding feats in their quest for gold. They sank shafts deep within the earth, crushed entire mountains and then directed water from heights of 400 to 800 feet against the collapsed mountains of debris to wash out the gold.

The Romans ventilated their mines by numerous adits, or passageways, which sloped down gradually from the surface. They employed water wheels and other ingenious pumping devices to

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