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    Serial Number 1 Sacramento National Gold Bank Note

    Sacramento, CA - $5 1872 Fr. 1138 The National Gold Bank of D O Mills & Co. Ch. # 2014 Serial Number 1 PCGS Extremely Fine 40.
    A fantastic rarity which is one of the greatest National Bank Note treasures that might ever be available to the collecting public. The National Gold Bank of D.O. Mills & Co. was organized pursuant to an Act of Congress dated July 12, 1870, which authorized the creation of National Gold Banks. These special banks were offered the power to issue currency backed by gold, a much desired currency in the west, which favored hard money and disdained other forms of U.S. currency. Chartered in 1872, the National Gold Bank of D.O. Mills & Co. was organized by some of the wealthiest financiers in California and became an immediate success. When the U.S. Treasury resumed specie payments on January 1, 1879, making all federal paper money redeemable in gold or silver, the logic that supported the creation of the National Gold Banks was removed, as the notes of all national banks were now redeemable in gold or silver coin. Congress reacted by passing an Act of February 14, 1880, allowing all existing National Gold Banks to convert into regular national banks, an act that this bank took advantage of on September 15, 1883, when the bank adopted the title of The National Bank of D.O. Mills & Co.
    The National Gold Bank of D.O. Mills & Co. originated as the private Bank of D.O. Mills & Co. in 1850. Organizer Darius Ogden Mills was born in 1825 in North Salem, New York and arrived in California in December, 1848 to seek his fortune in the gold rush. Mills soon found that banking, real estate, and railroads were considerably more lucrative than panning for gold. By the mid-1860s, he was wealthy enough to become one of the founders of San Francisco's Bank of California, and later became a part owner in the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, the only rail link between the Comstock Lode and the Central Pacific Railroad. Mills retired from banking and returned to New York, where he developed a number of parcels in Manhattan, including Mills House Number 1 at 160 Bleecker Street. When Mills died in 1910, his estate was valued at more than 36 million dollars. His grandson, Ogden L. Mills, later served as a United States Representative and as Secretary of the Treasury under President Herbert Hoover from February of 1932 until March of 1933.
    Edgar Mills, who signed this note as the bank's president, was the brother of D.O. Mills, and served as president of the bank from 1852 until his death in 1893. Edgar was a California pioneer who arrived in time to undertake the original survey of the Feather and Sacramento Rivers for General Sutter and Sam Brannan. His original career as a shopkeeper and outfitter was ended when his store was destroyed by fire in 1852, whereupon he relocated to Sacramento, where he joined his brother at the bank. When he died some forty years later he was living in an opulent mansion on California Street in San Francisco and was serving as president of the Eureka & Palisade Railroad in Nevada as well as having significant interests in several other western lines.
    Cashier Frank Miller was born in 1842 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He trained as a cryptographer and, after graduation from Yale University, joined the Union Army during the Civil War, where he was wounded during the Second Battle of Bull Run. Making his way to California, he became cashier of the bank, continued in a successful banking career, and was later made a Trustee of Stanford University.
    The first printing of 5-5-5-5 Gold Bank Notes for this bank arrived at the Comptroller of the Currency's office on August 6, 1872 and consisted of 500 sheets bearing bank serials 1-500 and Treasury serials K333872 through K334371. The first of these notes were sent to the bank on August 12th, with the shipment containing the number 1 sheet from which this spectacular note was cut. Interestingly, both of these dates precede the plate date engraved on the note, which is August 15, 1872. This bank bears the only collectible private name title that can be found on any National Gold Bank Note. The only other Gold Bank with a private name title was the Kidder National Bank of Boston, but all of the notes printed for that institution were returned to the Treasury unissued when that bank liquidated. This note is one of only four extant serial number 1 National Gold Bank Notes from all of the Gold Banks combined. Two of that number, a $5 and a $10, come from this bank, and two, also a $5 and $10, come from the First National Gold Bank of Stockton. The other serial number 1 example from this bank is heavily impaired and has never been available to collectors and likely never will be, as it resides in an institutional holding of a foreign bank. The two Stockton notes are also well ensconced in major US holdings, with one having been acquired privately after its last auction appearance nearly forty years ago and the second, which was discovered in 2014, having sold at auction for $339,300 four years ago. Although a side by side comparison is impossible, the example offered tonight is almost certainly the finest of the four, having long been listed in the census as About Uncirculated. While the note is indeed flawless for its grade, in a more restrained era PCGS has chosen to holder it at the Extremely Fine level, which many would call conservative. It is not only the finest known example for this Friedberg number, it is the finest known of any National Gold Bank Note outside of those from San Francisco.
    In any given decade, there are few notes offered for sale which are significant enough to truly merit the term "spectacular." This note, which combines rarity, desirability, and condition in equal parts, more than deserves that adjective.


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