1882 $50 Gold Certificate, PCGS Very Fine 30
By Cory Williams for PCGS ……
Recently, PCGS Banknote had this beautiful Gold Certificate come through the grading room. Interestingly, the submitter had no idea of the value, and when we had to move the submission to a more valuable tier, she explained that she had just found the banknote in an old book from her husband’s father and was valuing it at the price she was offered. Delighted to hear we valued the piece at five figures, she was happy to pay the modestly increased grading fee.
We graded this example as a Very Fine 30 due to limited folds and wear. We were happy to see this example retained a bright orange back along the entire design, as these Gold Certificates often have the ink oxidize to brown on the backs over time in places.
In 1882 an Act was passed that allowed for the issue of Gold Certificates in denominations of not less than $20, and they were to be redeemable in gold on demand. These issues were intended to circulate in commerce as the earlier examples of 1875 and prior were primarily used for moving large sums of gold around without carrying the physical bullion (the lowest denomination was $100).
The first issues of 1882 had a holdover from those issued in prior years in that they had a countersignature of the assistant treasurer of the United States at New York City as well as text stating they had to be presented to said office.
The very first issues of 1882 had a hand signature, but this last variety incorporated a facsimile signature into the printing plate. With the engraved countersignature of Thomas C. Acton, we arrive at the catalog number of Fr.1189a, as found in Paper Money of the United States by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg. After these issues, the countersignature and text relating to redemption at the New York City office were omitted from the design, making the triple-signature pieces an interesting variety.
A portrait of U.S. Senator and New York Governor Silas Wright, Jr., is seen at the left. Wright also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1827 through 1829 and was state comptroller from 1829 until 1833.
Assistant Treasurer Thomas Coxon Acton, Sr., was also commissioner of the New York City Police from 1860 through 1869 as well as the founder and president of the Bank of New Amsterdam. He is also known for modernizing the New York City Fire Department.
Blanche Kelso Bruce’s facsimile signature is seen at the right as Register of the Treasury. Born in 1841 into slavery, he went on to become the first African American U.S. senator to serve a full term.
James Gilfillan’s signature is also seen at right as treasurer of the United States. Appointed by Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877, he held this position through the presidency of his former classmate James A. Garfield.
Given the note’s illustrious history, it seems fitting in its new PCGS Banknote holder rather than hidden away inside a book!
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