Authorized at the height of the Civil War in 1863, gold certificates are a popular and interesting collectible memento of the days when the U.S. was on the gold standard. Each note represented a matching amount of gold coin on deposit at the U.S. Treasury. Notes prior to the Series of 1882 were payable to a named bearer only. From 1882 – 1933, any bearer of a gold certificate could redeem the notes for gold coin at the U.S. Treasury.
Although they haven’t been redeemable in gold since 1933, they are still legal tender U.S. currency, and remain popular, partly on account of the distinctive and beautiful yellow-orange backs and the yellow seals and serial numbers found on most notes.
Denominations issued ranged from $10 to $100,000. The $100,000 issue was a one-time only Series of 1934 issue that was issued only to banks, never released for general circulation. The 1934 $100,000 note was the highest denomination U.S. currency note ever produced. Gold certificates denominated above $100 are rarely seen in today’s marketplace.