North

How Scrooge McDuck got rich off the Klondike Gold Rush

It's a mystery worthy of the Ducktales crew: earlier this week, an anonymous listener dropped off several Scrooge McDuck comics to CBC host Dave White, including a print valued at over $1,300.

Listener dropped off extremely valuable print, several Yukon-based Scrooge McDuck comics to CBC Whitehorse

This print, 'The Goose Egg Nugget,' was drawn by Scrooge McDuck creator Carl Barks and shows a young McDuck in Dawson City, where he begun amassing his fortune during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s. (Disney Enterprises/IberLibro.com)

It's a mystery worthy of the Ducktales crew.

On Monday, Dave White, the host of CBC Yukon's Airplay, received a package from a listener. With no address or message attached, it was impossible to find the gift-giver.

Inside the package? A treasure trove of Scrooge McDuck comics, books, and a print signed by Carl Barks, the character's creator. 

The real kicker: signed copies of that print, known as "The Goose Egg Nugget," retail for a pretty penny — nearly $1,000 USD, or over $1,300 CAD — on some sites.

And while the comics' original owner is a mystery, the Yukon connection for Disney's richest duck is undeniable: he actually began amassing his fortune in the Klondike.

This set of Scrooge McDuck comics was dropped off anonymously to CBC Yukon earlier this week. The print, signed by character creator Carl Barks, retails for over $1,300 CAD on some websites. (Dave White/CBC)

A self-made duck

Patrick Rosenkranz, with the Oregon Cartoon Institute, says the first comic book instance of Scrooge McDuck coming to the Yukon was "Back to the Klondike," published in 1952. In the story, Scrooge comes back north with his nephew Donald, looking for gold he left there in the late 1800s.

Later on, stories were added to the mythos, explaining how he began amassing his fortune by striking gold in the area during the Klondike Gold Rush.

"He goes through this secret cave that has a frozen mammoth in it that's been scaring off people, and sort of finds this untapped claim on the other side of the mountain, and secretly mines it for some months before hitting the mother lode of gold," explained Rosenkranz.

Comic historian Patrick Rosenkranz says that the decision to have McDuck begin amassing his fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush had to do with the fact that creator Carl Barks believed 'it was the last time that someone could get rich off their own labour.' (Patrick Rosenkranz)

"Sort of going where other people can't, or won't."

One of those pieces of gold, the "goose egg nugget" — named for its size and egg-like shape — is the subject of the print brought to CBC.  

McDuck's adventures in the Klondike were obviously fictional, depicting a rough-and-tumble, crime infested version of Dawson City, Rosenkrantz says, but also included historical elements from the real gold rush.

Don Rosa, Barks' successor, introduced the character of Sam Steele — a real-life mountie who was the head of the Yukon detachment during the Klondike Gold Rush — as well as famous novelist Jack London into Scrooge's adventures in the Yukon.

Barks himself never made it to the Yukon, but used second-hand accounts including issues of National Geographic to inform his work, said Rosenkrantz.

"There's a sense of authenticity," Rosenkrantz said of the art style. "There's these expansive panoramas. He used a sense of wonder in these comics ... I think there's a sense of this bootstrap myth, the self-made millionaire, and that gets to the Scrooge story.

"There's a reason Barks used the Klondike. Because he thought it was the last time that someone could get rich off their own labour."


Do you know who brought the Scrooge McDuck comics to CBC Yukon? Are you the benefactor yourself? If so, we'd love to hear from you — call 867-688-8484 or email Dave.White@cbc.ca.

With files from Dave White

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