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Small-Size Gold Certificates

By Matt Quinn, Assistant Director of Currency

Author: Matt Quinn / Sunday, October 28, 2012 / Categories: Paper Money of the Week
Small-size Gold Certificates have been quite popular with collectors as of late even though there is virtually a single series date available. These notes, payable in gold coin, are observed with 1928, 1928A and 1934 Series dates although the latter two were not issued. The abrupt halt of the use of gold in any form as money was brought about when Executive Order 6102 was passed on April 5, 1933. This prohibited the holding of gold, gold coins and Gold Certificates, making only small exceptions for collector coins and jewelry. The Gold Reserve Act of January 1934 raised the gold bullion price to $35 from $20.67 and more effectively ended the use of gold as money.

While restrictions were in place on the ownership of Gold Certificates, dealers and collectors would still trade them privately. However, these restrictions severely limited the desirability of the notes, as the fear of seizure loomed. It was not until more than 30 years later that prominent collector Amon G. Carter, Jr. helped persuade then Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon to lift the restrictions on these beautiful banknotes. Little was documented concerning Gold Certificates during the three-decade ban of ownership, making it nearly impossible to determine the pedigrees of these now incredibly popular types.

The denominations used for 1928 small-size Gold Certificates ran from $10 to $10,000, with both the $5,000 and $10,000 notes being unknown in private hands. The only two with regular serial numbers are the serial number A00000001A notes that reside in the Smithsonian Collection. All other denominations for the 1928 series are collectible with denominations of $10 to $100 being quite available and the $500 and $1,000 being scarce, especially so in higher grades. With the prominent gold overprints used, these small-size Gold Certificates are truly some of the most appealing notes available to collectors.