100 Greatest American Currency Notes: Authorized March 3,1863 $20 Gold Certificate

Estimated number known: six. Two are in the hands of the government and the Smithsonian. The other four are assumed to be in the hands of collectors. Four for the entire world. It is safe to say that this note we are going to cover from the 100 Greatest American Currency Notes series from Whitman Publishing earned its spot among the plethora of paper money that riddles our past and present. With guidance from authors Q. David Bowers and David M. Sundman, we will take an even closer look at the rare note and offer a look inside its inception.

#52 – Authorized March 3, 1863 $20 Gold Certificate

Just two varieties are known of the $20 Gold Certificate authorized on March 3, 1863. One has a hand-signed counter-signature and the other a printed counter-signature. The six known to exist are from the original issued 48,000 of 100,000 that were printed which just two are hand-signed. One of the notes was hand-signed by H.H. Van Dyck who was an assistant treasurer of the United States in New York. The date was inked on January 8, 1866.

The left of the face of the note features an American eagle on a shield that has arrows, an olive branch, and the flag with “E PLURIBUS UNUM” printed above. The right of the face of the note in addition to the center features a printed green lattice that was used by the American Bank Note Co. to deter counterfeiters. The back of the note depicts a $20 gold double eagle in the center with a geographic lathe work in orange covering a substantial portion of the note.

In 1960, the historic market value of the note in a Very Fine condition was unknown. Just 20 years later in 1980, it was estimated at $100,000. Fast forward to the printing of this Whitman publication and the value rose again to $375,000.