RENO -- After being on public display for decades, a Nevada casino's unique gold collection is up for sale.
The Carson Nugget in Carson City is selling what it bills as "The World's Rarest Gold Collection" -- more than 170 specimens of gold in both nugget and crystalline form valued as much as $5 million.
"The Nugget is doing very well, but it's not really an asset that's necessary for the operations of the Nugget," resort President Steve Neighbors told The Associated Press. "No one is really looking at it anymore."
It's believed to be one of the two largest such collections on public display in the country, with Mariposa, Calif., home of the other, said Fred Holabird, president of Reno-based Holabird-Kagin Americana, one of the country's largest sellers of Western Americana.
Among its highlights is a crystalline specimen of natural leaf gold that's shaped like a large rose with multiple petals, he said.
"It's a phenomenal collection of gold specimens and nuggets," said Holabird, who's handling the collection's sale for the casino. "These are the things we dreamed about when we were younger."
The timing for the sale is good because of near-record gold prices and high demand for gold, Neighbors said. Gold closed Monday at $1,200.70 an ounce. Specimens in the collection have a combined weight of about 313 troy ounces.
The Nugget, the capital city's longest continuously operated casino, put the golden treasure up for sale after receiving unsolicited, competing bids of $1.1 million for it.
While the Nugget is accepting minimum bids of $1.1 million through Sept. 14, the collection has been valued in a broad range of up to $5 million, Neighbors added.
"Do we value it on the gold rate or just its overall collection value? There's different valuations going around," he said. "There's not more than two weeks that someone doesn't contact me about it."
The collection was put on display in the mid-1950s by Richard Graves, who purchased it from a Sonora, Calif.-area man after opening the Nugget in 1954, said former Nevada state archivist Guy Rocha. The collection was enlarged and enhanced by brothers Howard and Hop Adams, who bought both it and the Nugget from Graves in 1957.
The collection was still a big draw for the Nugget in 1980, according to Graves' oral history conducted that year.
"People today aren't as interested in seeing static exhibits," Rocha said. "Just putting gold specimens on a shelf and saying it's worth a lot of money, I don't think it captures people's imaginations like it once did. Exhibits today have to be highly visual and engaging."
Proceeds from the sale will go to the Mae B. Adams Trust, which owns the Nugget, and to the Hop and Mae Adams Foundation, which was established to benefit the local community and charities, Neighbors said.