San Francisco, California to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 20 December  to 4 August 4, 1857. Leather. This hand-sewn leather pouch measures 4” x 3.75”. The original stitching remains intact on two edges; it has been removed along the other two edges, no doubt to empty its contents. The pouch is franked on one side with seven single 10-cent green Washington stamps, Types II and III (Scott #14-15) arranged in two rows and cancelled with four strikes of a circular San Francisco postmark dated 20 December. An address label affixed to the opposite side contains a partial San Francisco circular post mark also dated 20 December, a Philadelphia delivery address, and two different Philadelphia Dead Letter Office handstamps. One of the Dead Letter handstamps is circular and dated Jun 30; the other is oval with a manuscript date of “Aug 4 57” inside. The edges of the address label are worn and chipped.
The postal rate of 70 cents indicates that the pouch would have carried almost 3.5 ounces of gold.
I wish I could claim that the vial containing 1.4 grams of gold nuggets and flakes came with the poke, but, alas, it did not. It has been passed down to us through several family members from a distant relative who ventured to California in the late 1850s to try his luck in the mines. Apparently, his luck wasn’t very good if this is all he had to show for his travel and labor. An acid purity text of the largest nugget indicates it ranges in purity from 18-22K. This tracks nicely with a Wikipedia article that states the purity of most California gold nuggets was between 20-22K. The gold and vial are in nice shape; the original cork stopper is missing and was replace by rolled paper many years ago.. Very good. Item #009796
One cannot help but wonder if the gold in the pouch ever made it to the addressee or was removed before or while the pouch sat unclaimed in the Philadelphia Dead Letter Office.
Exceptionally rare and historically, philatelically, and monetarily valuable. At the time of listing there is nothing similar for sale in the trade; Rare Book Hub and the Stamp Auction Network show no other similar items have come up for auction, and OCLC shows no similar items in institutional collections..