The presence of an astounding 30 California national gold bank notes,
the largest offering of such notes in over 70 years, dominates the
Heritage Currency Signature auction at the Central States Numismatic
Society convention outside Chicago on April 26. Dustin Johnston,
director of currency auctions for Heritage, said this is “the single
finest offering of national gold bank notes at auction since Albert A.
Grinnell’s collection was sold by Barney Bluestone in the 1940s.
Grinnell had nearly three dozen, including many of these rare types.”
This category of federal currency is among the rarest and most
unusual. In Paper Money of the United States, we call them the
“most romantic of all American currency issues.” Gold bank notes trace
their existence to the California Gold Rush, when so much gold was
trading hands daily that it was impossible for local banks to keep up
with it. The national gold banks were created by an act of Congress in
July 1870 to help alleviate the situation. The act established 10 gold
banks, nine in California and one in Boston, under the same National
Banking Act that authorized national bank notes.
Raised lines spark collector interest: Inside
Raised lines and die gouges can create curious effects on coins.
This week's Inside Coin World has plenty on the topic.
Evidence that the notes were well-accepted is that the normal
condition in which they are found today is usually Very Good or lower.
They are hardly ever seen in a condition better than Very Fine, and
then, restorations and repairs are to be expected.
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Surviving notes issued by the First National Gold Bank of San
Francisco far outnumber those from all others. Yet, the Heritage sale
offers notes from each of the California banks (those from the Kidder
National Gold Bank in Boston never entered circulation). Foremost
among them is a Friedberg 1161 (as cataloged in Paper Money of the
United States by Arthur and Ira Friedberg) $50 note from the Farmers
National Gold Bank at San Jose that has an estimated price of $350,000
to $550,000 in PCGS Currency Very Fine 20, one of which sold for
$178.50 in the Grinnell sale.
Also expected to reach six-figure results are $100 notes from banks
in Santa Barbara, Oakland, and Petaluma, a San Francisco $20 note, an
Oakland $10 issue, and several other notes from Santa Barbara and Petaluma.