This year marks the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the world’s largest Gold nugget – the Australian ‘Welcome Stranger’ – by two Cornishmen. To celebrate, The London Mint Office will present a special coin to Cornwall, as well as families of the founders on May 16 at Cornwall Gold – so the search is on to find their Cornish descendants.
In 1869 John Deason, born on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly and moved to Pendeen in Cornwall, and Richard Oates from Pendeen discovered the 109.69kg ‘Welcome Stranger’, the biggest alluvial Gold nugget ever found, near the base of a tree at Moliagul, Victoria in Australia. Because no scales were able to take the weight of the nugget, it had to be broken into three pieces on a blacksmith’s anvil. We (Cornwall Gold) specially commissioned the statue as a celebration of the pair’s discovery, and a replica of the ‘Welcome Stranger’ lies in the City Museum in Melbourne.
150 years on The London Mint Office is to present a special coin commemorating the discovery at an event at our commemorative statue located here in our car park, the perfect location to mark this occasion, being home to Tolgus Tin Mill and situated in Cornwall’s mining landscape, on May 16.
The coin is struck by Perth Mint in Australia, and will be presented to the Mayor of Redruth, Cllr. Deborah Reeve, as well as families of the original founders of the ‘Welcome Stranger’ by The London Mint Office. Descendants of the miners have been found in Australia, but now the search is on to find any family members who may still be living in the area.
Managing Director of The London Mint Office, Daniel Penney said: “It is a privilege to celebrate this monumental historic discovery by two Cornishmen 150 years on, with the people of Cornwall, and we hope to track down descendants of the founders to join us at this special event.
“This beautiful coin, struck in Australia where the discovery was made, is a fantastic celebration of such history. We hope the families and people of Cornwall will join us to celebrate 150 years of this remarkable discovery.”
Deason and Oates were both recorded in the 1851 census as workers in the Cornish tin mines, emigrating to Australia a few years later to become prospectors, or ‘diggers’ as they were known. It took a few years for the pair to strike gold, but when they did, it was an enormous piece of gold encased in quartz, buried just below the surface. It was so big, that as Mr Deason wrote: “I tried to prise the nugget up with the pick but the handle broke. I then got a crowbar and raised the nugget to the surface”.
The London Chartered Bank of Australia paid just under £10,000 for the treasure, and the pair were finally paid some £9,381 for the nugget – over £1m at today’s prices. They both died in Victoria some years later.
Any descendants are asked to contact The London Mint Office through firstname.lastname@example.org