When founded in 1880, the Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum was to be a showcase for 'all the products of useful art' from raw materials to finished products. When the Technological Museum opened in Ultimo in 1893, visitors ascended from economic geology on the ground floor through economic botany on the first floor to economic zoology on the top floor. The focus in economic geology was on Australia's raw materials and the methods used to process these into useful products. Gold, and the history of gold discoveries in Australia was highlighted in Bay 18 where a range of nuggets discovered in Victoria and New South Wales was displayed alongside models of the furnaces used in gold smelting. The display of copies of nuggets not only demonstrated the size and variety of nuggets uncovered it also appealed to visitors interest in the fortunes that had been made through their discovery.
This nugget is from a collection of 15 purchased from James White in Melbourne in 1885. Between 1885 and 1886 the Museum also commissioned a local model maker, Mrs AG Goodman, to make copies of New South Wales nuggets as well as commercial fruits and minerals. Today, models such as this one of the Precious nugget are a reminder that despite the hardships of the 1850s gold rushes, some people did strike it rich and the hope of uncovering such wealth kept hundreds of thousands of diggers constantly searching for new deposits in all the Australian colonies from 1851 up until the early 1900s.