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The following is the history of the Golden Rooster as stated in a brochure from the Nugget Casino:

Just prior to the opening of the Nugget Casino on May 18, 1958, one question still remained unanswered: What can be done to identify the Nugget’s newest speciality restaurant, the Golden Rooster Room? Each of the Nugget’s restaurants had its own distinctive menu and decor—the Golden Rooster Room must stand out as well! Heads were put together, and an idea was born: Make a solid gold statue of a rooster—a masterpiece of art, to be displayed for the pleasure of all Nugget patrons. Sculptor Frank Polk created the original model from which the Rooster was fashioned.

Permission was quickly secured from the San Francisco Mint to make the Golden Rooster, and Newman’s Silver Shop of Reno and Shreve’s of San Francisco were commissioned to begin. Within four months, the rooster was ready to be displayed. It was transported to the Nugget and placed in a special bullet-proof glass case and soon became an outstanding tourist attraction.

Seven months after going on display, the Golden Rooster attracted the attention of the United States Treasury Department, who charged that it was in violation of the Gold Reserve Act. This act states that a private individual cannot have more than fifty ounces of gold in his possession unless it is an object of art. The Golden Rooster would have to be confiscated! The Nugget informed the Treasure officials that permission had been granted through Shreve’s by the U. S. Mint, and, after verifying this, the matter was dropped—for 18 months.

A year and a half later, July, 1960, the Nugget was again visited by the Treasury Department—this time to present the Nugget with an official complaint entitled: “United States of America vs One Solid Gold Object in the Form of a Rooster.” The Golden Rooster would have to go to jail! The Nugget tried to “put up bail,” but the request was denied.

After “serving” two years, and after two trial postponements, the Golden Rooster was to have his day in court. The decision would rest on whether the Golden Rooster was an object of art. The Nugget contended that the Rooster was a customary and artistic use of gold—the government said no! Unfortunately the government was unable to sway the art critics who were asked to attest to the Rooster’s artistic value. All agreed with the Nugget. So did the jury of ten men and two women, and the Golden Rooster was free again. Newspapers throughout the nation carried stories of the famed Rooster, displaying headlines that shouted: “Solid Gold Bird Liberated!”

The Rooster was returned to its special display case in the Nugget near the entrance to the Golden Rooster Room (now called El Gallo de Oro). After all, the Nugget’s Golden Rooster is a beautiful art object—with a federal Court decision to prove it!

John Ascuaga, Sparks, Nevada

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