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Friday, May 27, 2016

Can I exchange this certificate for gold?

“While cleaning out my mother’s house, I found a twenty-dollar bill that says “twenty dollars in gold coin payable to the bearer on demand.” It’s bigger than a regular twenty-dollar bill and it has George Washington on it. Can I really exchange it for gold?”

Our patron brought in a picture of their find and we were able to identify it as a 1922 series twenty-dollar gold certificate. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve History websites answered our patron’s question. While it can be redeemed for a regular twenty-dollar bill through any financial institution, it can no longer be exchanged for gold. In fact, for thirty years it was illegal to have a gold certificate.

Gold certificates circulated until December 28, 1933, until the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 withdrew all gold certificates, gold coin, and gold bullion from circulation. President Roosevelt gave the order that all privately-owned gold certificated be turned over to the Treasurer of the United States by midnight on January 17, 1934. It was then illegal to hold them until the restrictions were removed in 1964.

However, there is good news! According to the thirty-fourth edition of the Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money, a 1922 series twenty-dollar gold certificate in fine condition can be worth about two hundred dollars.

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