George's Canyon Nevada, 1909 Gold Nugget Necklace and Nuggets [175990]

Currency:USD Category:Jewelry / Metals - Solid Gold Start Price:2,500.00 USD Estimated At:5,000.00 - 9,000.00 USD
George's Canyon Nevada, 1909 Gold Nugget Necklace and Nuggets    [175990]

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Group of four pieces: gold nugget "Georges Canyon Nev. 1909" engraved necklace (44.8g [1.43 troy], 14.5" [14kt?] chain); 8.3gram and 1.7 gram gold nuggets with quartz; and 12.2g (14kt?) gold watch chain.

The George’s Canyon, Nevada, 1909 Gold Nugget Engraved Necklace – An Essay
Fred N. Holabird, copyright 2023
This rather unique and spectacular gold nugget necklace comes from a major Nevada collector with the only provenance as the special engraving: George’s Canyon, Nev. 1909” and a note bearing an owner’s name, “Jane Edwards.” It is a choice and rare trophy nugget presented from Tonopah mining millionaire Benjamin F. Edwards to his wife Jane. The nuggets and chain weigh about 2.1 troy ounces.
The nugget is very notable because of its unique size, very special mounting, and the importance of the engraved phrase “George’s Canyon, Nev., 1909” engraved on the gold (14kt?) setting. There is no doubt that this piece was a trophy for its owner, a nugget probably mined by a direct relative of Jane Edwards the noted owner, and must have been one-time sacred family trophy.
When I first saw this piece, and after the “wow!” effect began to wear off, I immediately was recalled to my own experience as a young field geologist working out of Tonopah, in particular my weeks spent with Norm Coombs, one of the original “discoverers” of the modern-day open pit, and 5 million-plus ounce (long since exceeded) gold deposit of Round Mountain. The nugget of “George’s Canyon” looked strikingly just like a couple of nuggets Norm had given me in the 1970s, of which I still have one. They are very unique in their color, appearance, and quartz content. Norm had mined the nuggets himself as a young man, and told me about the early rich placers, even taking me to the sites and noting the then-unmined sections (now mined out completely.) Over time, Norm spent much personal time with me teaching me about the local geology, and tricks in spotting native gold in conjunction with good geology and geochemistry – tricks that I would later use to find other similar deposits (viz an advanced class in ‘leached outcrops” ala Roland Blanchard that I always had fun talking to friends Tony Payne and John Livermore about.)
The nugget is so strikingly familiar to the early Round Mountain nuggets, that I instinctively went on a mad research run. And what is this “George’s Canyon” anyway? I have never heard of it.
George’s Canyon is not an easy location to find. The place is not listed in more books that I care to mention here, including Carlson’s “Place Names of Nevada,” and the printed version of the USGS Index of Place Names (National Gazetteer of the United States of America, 1990, USGS PP1200.) But researcher Shawn Hall of Tonopah wrote of the place in his Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Nye County, Nevada, 1981 (p142). It also had a short-lived post office.
George’s Canyon is about thirty miles due north-east of Tonopah in the Monitor Range, about twelve and a half miles north-northwest of the Stone Cabin dirt road turnoff on Highway 6 in one of the remotest parts of central Nevada. Gold was discovered there in 1903, but it wasn’t until 1909 when Tonopah co-discoverer Harry Stimler and Ira Farcher formed the Fresno Mining District. Farcher found placer gold in July, and it must have been about this time that word got back to Tonopah, and Edwards and friends were off to George’s Canyon, where evidently Edwards found this gold nugget during that initial discovery period, or perhaps bought it from one of the discoverers that summer of 1909.
While a rich gold vein was reported, production was limited, and efforts to find mineable ores frittered away by 1920. The new world of microscopic gold has brought back new interest in the area within the past ten years in particular. Today, the site has only ruins of a stone foundation, if you are lucky enough to find it.
The Jane Edwards Tie. The Wife of Major Tonopah Businessman B. F. Edwards
The name “Jane Edwards” was given as part of the provenance without any other documentation. Just who is Jane Edwards? Can we possibly know from such a common name?
It can be reasonably assumed that Jane Edwards was a daughter or wife of the man who mined the nugget in 1909. The commonality of the name would appear to present serious problems in research. However, there appears only one Jane Edwards in Nevada Census data of the post-1900 period, and that is of Lorena Jane Edwards, “Jane” as her friends called her, who married future Tonopah mining millionaire Benjamin Franklin Edwards in 1893 in Oakland where she was from. Within a week, the couple returned to their home in Candelaria, Nevada, where Edwards was the Cashier for the Candelaria Bank. The couple had five children, including a daughter they named “Lorena”, who later wrote a book about her family, “A Sagebrush Heritage” by Lorena Edwards Meadows, 1973 which discusses the family’s life in great detail.
Benjamin Franklin Edwards was the son of Thomas and Catherine Edwards, both born in Wales, emigrating to the United States during the gold rush period, later becoming US citizens. Tom and family were working at Empire, Nevada, possibly for one of the Comstock mills in 1870, a scant five years after Ben was born. Sometime in the 1870s, the family moved to Benton, California, where Tom worked as a teamster and young Ben as a miner, though his daughter Lorena said in her book that he “was too small to work underground.” In the summer of 1880, the Edwards family was in Bodie, which was booming with work. In 1885, Ben moved to Candelaria to work as a miner. There he made fast friends with the influential businessmen who all recognized his business acumen, and ben made the most of it. Among the many people he met and worked for were Francis Marion Smith, aka “Borax” Smith. In the borax fields surrounding Candelaria, Ben Edwards learned the borax mining trade.
Edwards became Cashier of the Candelaria Bank. The bank seemed to flourish in the c 1890 period, but the mining depression of the mid-1890s hit all of Nevada hard, and the small mining camps were hit the hardest. Most of the small mining camp banks closed or failed. Edwards took a job with Esmeralda County as a County Administrator, a job he held through about 1900. He also owned a general merchandise store knows as “Edwards & Cutting.” A local newspaper announced in December, 1901 that the pair was building a brand new large building for their store in Candelaria. Coming from a major American silver mining camp, Edwards was very active in the Silver Party and was on the Silver Commission.
The discovery of gold in Tonopah in 1899 changed everything. As a successful businessman and former banker, Edwards joined a host of his friends and made their way to Tonopah, about 50 miles south. Edwards & Cutting opened a second merchandise store, the first in Tonopah, about 1900 with a third partner Turner. They also opened a bank, the Bank of Tonopah. By the end of 1901 though, the three separated, with Edwards & Cutting getting the merchandise store, and Turner the bank. But a much larger bank came calling. In Carson City, home of the former Carson City Mint, the Bullion and Exchange Bank had formed, and the bank wanted Edwards on the Board, along with W.J. Douglass, a successful Tonopah mining man. Douglass then joined the Edwards & Cutting firm, along with two other partners and changed the name of the mercantile business to the Nye County Mercantile. Cutting ran the Tonopah businesses while Edwards remained in Candelaria running their businesses there, as well as his own mining interests.
In late 1904 it appears Edwards tried to move to either (or both) Bishop and/or Berkeley. Only a month earlier, Edwards and Cutting had acquired much of the ownership of the West End mine, of which Borax Smith was also a partner. By 1905, the West End had hit and mined bonanza ore, and Edwards became the manager. Within a few years the West End would become a public company, and the stock soared as production continued for years. The West End was soon a major producer, with over $14 million from 1906-1939 alone. Edwards managed the mine through 1910. Production from c1903-1906 was unreported because the company as privately held.
Edwards moved to Berkeley in 1910, but continued to visit Tonopah regularly. He remained very active in the mining scene, visiting and prospecting in many of the local mining camps as reported by his daughter in her book, though she never mentioned George’s Canyon.