HomeAuctionsObscure California National Gold Bank Notes Highlight Heritage US Currency Auction

Obscure California National Gold Bank Notes Highlight Heritage US Currency Auction

By CoinWeek ….
Heritage Auctions sold a total of $32,576,612 USD worth of U.S. coins, currency and World currency at the 78th annual Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) convention, which took place April 26 through May 2.

By itself, the U.S. coins auction garnered a total of $22,841,622. The World currency auction sold a total of $1,006,909, while the U.S. currency portion totaled almost nine times as much at $8,728,081.

Of special note at the United States paper money sale was a selection of rare National Gold Bank Notes from California. These notes were authorized by the Currency Act of 1870, which established 10 national gold banks that issued gold notes in order to better handle the 19th-century flow of gold into California’s economy. A total of 200,558 National Gold Bank Notes were issued between 1871 and 1883; only around 630 still exist. The Heritage CSNS U.S. currency auction featured 30 of them, all from the Eureka Collection of National Gold Bank Notes. Some of the notes are unique and the only surviving specimens from their respective banks.

Lot 21434: Oakland $100 Original National Gold Bank Note

Oakland, CA - $100 Original National Gold Bank Note Fr. 1166 The Union National Gold Bank Ch. # 2266. Image courtesy Heritage Auctions

This $100 Original National Gold Bank Note (Friedberg 1166) from the Union National Gold Bank of Oakland, California was one of three specimens for sale at this auction. From the entire national gold banking system, only nine examples of this denomination and type are currently known, and only one is known from Oakland. Collectors have been waiting since 1945 for a chance to buy this note; its last appearance at public auction was at the sale of Albert Grinnell’s collection of National Gold Bank Notes in March of that year. Graded Fine 12 by PCGS Currency, there is some notable restoration work visible on the bill, but as it is a unique surviving example, these flaws had little impact on its hammer price.

  • Realized: $235,000.00

Lot 21433: Petaluma $100 Original National Gold Bank Note

Petaluma, CA - $100 Original national Gold Bank Note Fr. 1165 The First National Gold Bank Ch. # 2193. Image courtesy Heritage Auctions

Lot 21433, a $100 Original National Gold Bank Note (Friedberg 1165) from the First National Gold Bank of Petaluma, California, is one of only two known examples of this type and denomination from this particular bank. Again, paper money collectors were extraordinarily lucky to bid on this item since most of the nine $100 notes issued by all the gold banks put together are locked away in bank or other institutional collections.

This specimen itself was most recently offered in 1998, earning a then-shocking hammer price of $25,300.

Like the Oakland piece above, small restorations can be seen on the Petaluma note by the dedicated observer, though thankfully all restoration was professional in nature. Signatures are distinct. PCGS currency graded this example at Very Good 10.

  • Realized: $246,750.00

Lot 21432: Santa Barbara $100 Original National Gold Bank Note

Santa Barbara, CA - $100 Original National Gold Bank Note Fr. 1164 The First National Gold Bank Ch. # 2104. Image courtesy Heritage Auctions

The First National Gold Bank of Santa Barbara is represented by this unique $100 Original National Gold Bank Note (Friedberg 1164). Originally part of the Grinnell Collection, it was later part of the Robert F. Schermerhorn Collection. Again, this item is but one of nine remaining $100 National Gold Bank Notes.

PCGS graded this specimen as Fine 12, making note of pinholes and a missing tip in the upper left corner.

  • Realized: $282,000.00

Lot 21431: San Jose $50 Original National Gold Bank Note

San Jose, CA - $50 Original National Gold Bank Note Fr. 1161 The Farmers National Gold Bank Ch. # 2158. Image courtesy Heritage Auctions

Another unique note, this time a $50 denomination (Friedberg 1161) from the Farmers National Gold Bank of San Jose. Only seven $50 gold bank notes are known to survive; the other six are from the national gold bank in San Francisco, and one of those is in the American Numismatic Association (ANA) Money Museum.

PCGS-graded Very Fine 20.

  • Realized: $376,000.00

All hammer prices include 17.5% buyer’s premium


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