What is a Gold Certificate? Everything You Need to Know

bullion gold certificate

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A gold certificate is a document that proves gold ownership, similar to the ownership of a stock, bank account, or physical money.

Gold certificates were the main form and gold standard of “representative money” for nearly 80 years in the mid-19th century and early 20th century.

However, after the practice of using gold certificates was banned in the early 20th century, book certificates replaced this ancient currency form.

Understanding the gold certificate definition and purpose of this currency figurehead over history is imperative.

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History of Gold Certificates

This currency certificate was a huge part of American history and the formation of reserve banks. The Federal Reserve Bank was the U.S. government office in charge of the development process of gold inventory and private gold ownership. 

Gold certificates were first legally authorized to use in the United States in 1863 and first began circulation just two years later in 1865.

These certificates were considered the ‘gold standard’ during this time. 

The purpose of using gold certificates was due to the rules placed on using and creating currency notes in the United States.

The Treasury aimed to create governmental gold holdings in the government for previously-unallocated gold in the country. 

The U.S. Treasury wanted to increase the flow of current in the Treasury and maintain the Federal government’s power. 

Gold certificates were created to represent the legal coins used for currency circulation and act as U.S. Treasury-owned gold.

During this time, the dollar was backed by gold coins. After their creation in 1863, a series of gold certificates began commonplace in the United States economy.

There were orange large-sized notes, and yellow (small-size) gold certificates, both of which contained the official Federal Reserve notes gold seal of approval.

Unfortunately, the gold certificate era ended during the Roosevelt administration after Executive Order 6102. This order requires every citizen of the US to deliver all gold coins to the Federal Reserve by May 1933 to establish a stronghold of government-owned gold.

Are Gold Certificates Still Legal Tender Today?

Gold certificates are still legal tender today. Roosevelt and Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillion heavily restricted ownership of gold certificates from the 1930s until the 1960s.

This virtually took all of the gold certificates out of circulation to the general public, with the only exception being for an avid collector.

After the 1960s and the heavy restrictions, most paper certificates were destroyed or held by a government entity. The Federal Reserve made a point of canceling gold transactions and putting the majority of gold in storage. 

The Federal Reserve destroyed all gold certificates or registered them under an electronic book accessible by only the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.

The only gold certificates still available today are those legally authorized to be held at Federal Reserve Banks or for educational reasons.

However, individuals can redeem legal tender at a financial institution for face value.

Gold Certificate Value Chart

Here is a table of the most popular gold certificates and their current value. 

Type of Gold Certificate/YearValue
1882 Fr. 1193$992-$50,400
1882 Fr. 1194$992-$38,400
1882 Fr. 1195$1,090-$50,400
1882 Fr. 1196$1,020-$24,000
1882 Fr. 1197$992-$54,000
1900 Fr. 1225c$1,380-$5,000
1900 Fr. 1225d$3,130-$5,000
1907 Fr. 1219c$36,000-$48,000
1907 Fr. 1219d$30,000
1913 Fr. 1198$520-$48,000
1913 Fr. 1199$501-$48,000
1922 Fr. 1200$423-$84,000
1922 Fr. 1200a$390-$9,380
1922 Fr. 1217$4,880-$126,000

Where to Buy Gold Certificates?

If you are interested in buying gold certificates, the best place to purchase these items is through an online service, local jeweler, trusted retailer, or financial institution.

For example, if you are interested in purchasing gold certificates online, APMEX offers gold certificates with personal shipping to your address.

You can also use local gold dealers in your area to find gold certificates. Using a gold dealer or jeweler lets you buy gold certificates in person.

The best place to find gold certificates is to visit your local bank. Ask your bank if they deal with gold trading and determine how much gold you want to buy.

Are Gold Certificates a Good Investment?

Gold certificates are paper notes issued by the US government to represent a certain monetary value, either through a gold coin or gold bullion issued by the Treasury Department.

Today, gold bar certificates are not redeemable for gold bullions, gold coins, or other types of valuable coins. Gold certificates cannot be used to pay for items in a retail store, barter, or for other types of currency exchange for private entities. 

However, individuals may want to purchase certificates for gold to gather another type of legal tender to use at a bank or other financial institution.

Instead of sitting by the wayside and letting your money depreciate over time, purchasing a gold certificate can be a smart way to redeem money at a bank or credit union.

Consider holding gold in a bank to keep the value of your currency as the years go on.


Some frequently asked questions about gold certificates are:

A gold certificate is considered a ‘representative’ of gold coins or bullion. This type of paper certificate allows users to hold value without having the physical gold with them.

It is possible to cash in gold certificates at any financial institution that works with gold buying and banking (usually large-scale banks and chain financial institutions vs. credit unions).

If you are interested in buying gold in its physical form, you will receive a certificate. Make sure you use a reputable gold dealer or jeweler during this transaction.

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When it comes to customer service, fees, safety, and overall customer satisfaction, Noble Gold Investments checks all of the boxes.