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More than a week after a Gold Rush-era jewel box was stolen from the Oakland Museum of California, the museum has released a photo of the relic. The historic box was taken during a break-in at the museum early on the morning on Jan. 7, along with another less valuable item from the California history exhibit, police and museum officials said. Museum director Lori Fogarty said the box was a wedding anniversary gift for the wife of a California pioneer who had come out West in the late 1800s. The gold-and-quartz box that has engraved scenes depicting early California life, including herds of buffalo, Native Americans and railroads, was made between 1869 and 1878 by A. Andrews, a San Francisco goldsmith, and is signed. The 7-by-9-inch box weighs about 3 pounds and had last been appraised about 30 years ago. It’s unclear how much the box is worth, however museum officials said it has high historical value. The box has been part of the museum’s collection since the 1960s, according to Fogarty. The theft is the second break-in at the museum in the past few months.
Oakland police are investigating whether the Jan. 7 burglary is connected to an overnight burglary at the museum that was discovered the morning of Nov. 13. In that case, several items, including gold nuggets, were taken from display cases. The burglar was caught on surveillance video, and was described by police as a black male with a medium complexion who is 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall. At the time of the burglary, he was wearing a white mask, a dark hat, dark jacket and dark shoes. Police believe the suspect committed or is connected to both robberies. As the investigation continues, the museum has offered a $12,000 reward for the box’s safe return. Thus far, the jewelry box remains missing and no one has been arrested in connection with the thefts.
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