|over 30 gold pans are illustrated and described, including pans for dry panning, historic pans, small pans, large pans... - and just what exactly is panning?|
The article clarifies the North American gold pan and why gold panning remains so popular – in spite of dissatisfaction and innovations to the gold pan.
The North American pan is distinctive in being circular with a flattish floor ringed by an outwardly sloping wall. Its identity is confused by over-use of the terms ‘pan’ and ‘panning’.
The North American pan gyrates in a distinctive orbital motion driven by both hands of the gold panner. Although many other motions are resorted to (tapping, to-and-fro, tilting, and tick-tock), it is the orbital motion and flattish floor that together distinguish the gold pan from most other hand-held gravitational devices.
In spite of its enduring popularity, no scientific tests have been published on the North American gold pan or for any of the innovations covered by 30 US patents awarded since 1861. It remains unclear if the North American gold pan is more efficient at recovering fine gold and flat gold than a lotok, batea, dulang, ninja bowl, grizzly pan, mat, bucket or any other sort of hand-driven gravitational device.
Some innovations are long-forgotten but merit attention. For instance, bars to keep the panners hand clear of the water, cables to hold large heavy pans, and several pans designed for panning for gold without any water.
Traditionally the North American gold pan was a combined digging and washing device, but today most models are not designed for digging and require a spade to be used.
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