Have You Ever Seen a “Strawberry Certificate”?

To many collectors, terms like Silver Certificate and Gold Certificate are instantly recognizable and conjure an array of iconic notes each bearing a range of denominations and vignettes.

However, prior to the emergence and nationwide acceptance of federal currency, a variety of local and state issues filled the void. Known to collectors today as Obsolete Bank Notes, these came in a variety of denominations and bore a cacophony of vignettes that were often tied to local industry.

A merchant operating out of Utica in upstate New York issued a note dated 1862 which bore the vignette of a plump red strawberry. Although unusual in the sense that it depicted fruit as opposed to an allegorical figure or a prominent personality from American history, the guarantee that backed this note also stands apart as an oddity. In an era where notes were often backed with real estate or agricultural cash-crops (such as cotton in the Antebellum South), this note was backed by a quart of strawberries and, if the strawberry crop failed, exchangeable in current banknotes at the Savings Bank, 167 Genesee Street, Utica.
Offered as lot 92052 in our January Collectors Choice Online Auction, this note has been encapsulated by PMG and has been assigned a grade of Very Fine 20 with a comment for a “Minor Repair” – done presumably to rectify a small imperfection along the bottom margin.

This is indeed a rare item, one that reflects both the hyper-local reality of currency in the years preceding the American Civil War and the wartime economic realities of the conflict which resulted in a multitude of private issues temporarily filling the void.

To consign your numismatic items to one of our upcoming auctions, please call 800-458-4646 or email

Join our mailing list

Don't miss an auction!

Subscribe to our newsletter.


Contact Us

West Coast Office • (800) 458-4646

Midwest Office • (800) 817-2646

East Coast Office • (800) 566-2580

Hong Kong, China Office • +852 2117 1191

Follow Us

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter

We are sorry, an unexpected error occurred!
Please enter a valid email address

I'm Interested In...

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Stack's Bowers Galleries e-newsletter.