Gold certificates were issued and produced by the United States Treasury from 1865 to 1934. These notes were backed by gold and could be used as a form of currency until 1934, when Congress passed a law making it illegal for anyone other than the government to own gold. At this point, many of these certificates were removed from circulation. Those that survived have become collector’s items and trading between collectors has increased since 1975, when Congress made it legal for American citizens to once again own gold.
Do Your Homework
Before selling your gold certificate, you must determine whether you own a legitimate piece of paper. Unfortunately, excellent forgeries and reproductions abound. Gold certificates have a distinctive gold seal. They also contain serial numbers and the year their series was printed. Face values range from $10 to $10,000. Larger-value notes were only for circulation among banks and are much more rare. Checking for all of these characteristics on your note will help you begin to determine authenticity.
Prepare Your Note
Take the time to get good digital photos of both the front and back of your gold certificate. Make sure all identifying features are easily identifiable. Carefully photograph and note any tears, wrinkles, stains or other anomalies on your note. This information is very important to collectors and can impact the value of your note. There are also professional grading services that will grade the quality of your gold certificate by a standard measurement. This will give a prospective buyer a full picture on the quality and rarity of the note.
Sell to Coin Shop
Gold certificates are now considered collector’s items. While they cannot be redeemed for gold at the bank, they are often worth more than their face value to collectors. Local gold and currency dealers are often the easiest way to sell your gold certificate because of the convenience. Visit as many local coin/currency dealers as possible and have them evaluate your notes and give you feedback, along with an estimated value. Then choose the best offer and sell your note.
If there are no shops in your area, there are plenty online that are willing to buy nonlocal items. Research to ensure they are a legitimate business by checking online reviews and business license records for the state in which they operate. Excellent, high quality pictures are essential to this transaction. Some may want to see the note in person. If so, send it by registered mail and buy insurance to protect your investment should anything happen to it in transit.
Sell to Private Party
You may find you can command a higher price by cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the end buyer. These buyers can be found through online collectors forums or by advertising in your local classified ads.
Unfortunately, choosing to forgo a reputable dealer leaves you vulnerable to scams and theft. Mitigate your risk by meeting in a public place to conduct the transaction. Do not accept a personal check, only a cashier's check or cash. A bank provides a safe public venue to ward off theft and also allows you to check the legitimacy of the payment immediately.
- Money Factory: U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing -- Gold Certificates
- USA Gold: Gold Market of the Recent Decade
- Federal Reserve Bank Of Richmond: Gold and Silver - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Federal Reserve Bank Of Richmond
- Smithsonian: $100,000 U.S. Gold Certificate -- National Museum of American History
- Antique Money: Gold Certificates -- Value of Gold Certificates
- United States Postal Service: Registered Mail
- Office of the Historian. "Nixon and the End of the Bretton Woods System, 1971–1973." Accessed May 28, 2020.
- National Audit Office. "The Sale of Part of the UK Gold Reserves." Accessed May 28, 2020.
- U.S. International Trade Commission. "Floating Exchange Rates and U.S. Competitiveness," Page 10, 11. Accessed May 28, 2020.
Lynn Starner has been writing professionally since 2004, specializing in business-related topics. She holds a both a bachelor's and a master's degree in business. She loves reading, writing, and talking about business with a particular fondness for small businesses.