Russia’s Largest Gold Nugget
One hundred and seventy-three years ago, in 1848, Nikifor Syutkin, a worker at the state-owned Miass gold mines, was, just as usually he did, digging for gold. Suddenly he heard a tinkling sound from underneath his pickaxe. When he shook the dirt off the find, he barely managed to elevate a 36-kilogram gold nugget up the wooden ladder.
As the head of the mine, Brigadier General Anosov wrote in a report to General Glinka:
"According to Article 1773 of the Seventh Volume of the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, Nikifor Syutkin shall be accrued 15 kopecks per zolotnik (Note: old Russian measure of weight, equivalent to 4.26 gr.)! A total of 1,266 rubles 60 kopecks in silver! I ask for your permission to reward him."
And Nikifor received a prize - a gigantic sum that would be slightly over $100,000 now. The nugget itself was named the "Big Triangle", and under heavy guard, it was transported to the Mining Museum, St. Petersburg. On November 10th of the same year, it enriched the Museum's collection of precious minerals and metals. Under Emperor Nikolai I Pavlovich's rescript, samples of all ores and rocks extracted in the Russian Empire should have been sent out to the Mining Museum and stored within. The nugget had been showcased until late March 1918 - for seventy years, to be precise. On the Soviet Government's decision to relocate to Moscow, Museum's most precious valuables were transferred and are currently represented in the Diamond Fund Collection in the Kremlin.
Regardless, the Museum's visitors still get impressed by seeing the replica of the world's second-largest and Russia's largest nugget. The 'fake nugget' looks almost exactly the same as the original one since it was executed with maximum precision.
The money did not bring happiness to Nikifor, however. He was numerously whipped for his love for alcohol, yet it did not stop him from drinking all the capital away and dying in poverty, found frozen in a ditch.