Auction preview: ‘Extremely rare’ 1882 gold certificate expected to bring $500k USD

An extremely rare 1882 gold certificate could bring $500,000 USD or more at tomorrow’s Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Currency Auction in Tampa, Fla.

“The January FUN auction is like no other event,” said Heritage Auctions Currency Director Dustin Johnston. “Each year, we encounter some really extraordinary rarities, and this year’s event is no exception.”

According to Heritage Auctions, which is selling the 1882 $1,000 gold certificate, the item’s rarity is “beyond debate.” In Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) Very Fine 30, this example is believed to be one of just five in existence, and one of only two available to collectors. Series 1882 $1,000 gold certificates were issued from 1882 through 1906 with a total of eight different signature combinations. Notes with the signatures of William S. Rosecrans and Enos H. Nebeker, who were only in office together from April 1891 through May 1893, make up just 4.3 per cent of a total run of only 8,000 certificates.

“Their joint tenure dates point to a likely issue date, a time when financial strife was building momentum for the Panic of 1893,” according to the auction catalogue, which adds this “incredible discovery brings the number of known notes to five, though our research has shown that this example is likely one of only two available to collectors.”

Two pieces are listed in the census to the Federal Reserve Bank Collections in San Francisco and Chicago, and the third is pictured in the early editions of the Friedberg book; however, the auction house was unable to locate it, “even with a reward being offered just for the knowledge of its whereabouts.”

The fourth example was offered by Heritage several years ago and realized more than $880,000 USD.


Another gold certificate being offered at the Jan. 5 sale is the finest known 1882 $20 gold certificate in PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ (exceptional paper quality). It has a pre-sale estimate of $250,000 USD or more and comes from the same series of 1882 $20 gold certificates issued for more than 18 years; however, there was a significant gap between 1891 and 1898—an interruption during which no new plates or print runs were ordered. That interruption left just five signature combinations from the early issues and a single signature combination for the later issues.

Only eight per cent of the total number of printed 1892 $20 gold certificates were from this early issue, and surviving examples are rarities. This is one of the two finest notes known to exist from that early period.


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