Bernhardt Otto Holtermann, who was born on April 29, 1838, was a prospector who owned part of an Australian claim where rich veins of gold were discovered after years of dry digging. I suppose it does take perseverance to successfully mine for gold, but when you consider that Holtermann finally discovered gold afteryears of digging, I would say that mining for gold also takes faith. Holtermann was born in Germany, and at adulthood set sail for Sydney, Australia in order to avoid military service. Most of his mining years were unsuccessful, including the year he even blew himself up with a premature explosion of blasting powder. Of course, his accidental explosion did not kill him, and must not have been very strong, because at the time of his greatest find, he still had all his limbs.

Holtermann’s “claim to fame” gold nugget was the largest gold specimen ever found, 59 inches long, weighing 630 pounds, and with an estimated gold content of 3,000 troy ounces. It was found at Hill End, near Bathurst, New South Wales. The nugget brought him enough wealth to build a mansion in North Sydney. Today, the mansion is one of the boarding houses at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (known as the Shore school). While working with one of his partners and later brother-in-law, Ludwig Hugo ‘Louis’ Beyers in their Star of Hope Gold Mining Company, in which he and Beyers were among the partners, they struck it rich. On February 22, 1868, Holtermann married Harriett Emmett, while Beyers married her sister Mary. On October 19, 1872, the Holtermann Nugget was discovered. While it was not “strictly speaking” a nugget, it was a gold specimen, a mass of gold embedded in rock, in this case quartz. Holtermann attempted to buy the 3,000-troy-ounce specimen from the company, offering £1000 over its estimated value of £12,000 (about AU$1.9 million in 2016 currency, AU$4.8 million on the 2017 gold price), but was turned down, and the nugget was sent away to have the gold extracted. Holtermann was so upset about that, that resigned from the company in February 1873.

Holtermann did manage to get a photograph of himself with the nugget. This famous photo of Holtermann next to a giant “nugget” was taken by an unknown photographer. After leaving the Star of Hope Gold Mining Company, Holtermann was elected as a member for Saint Leonard’s parliament in 1882. Tragically, at the young age of just 47 years, Holtermann died in Sydney, Australia on his birthday, April 29, 1885, of “cancer of the stomach, cirrhosis of the liver, and dropsy.” He left behind his wife, three sons, and two daughters.

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