1900 $10,000 Ten-Thousand Dollar Gold Certificate (PMG 15)

Fr. 1225

  • Lot number 6222664
  • Total bids 7
  • High bid $1,737.75
  • Remaining time 2d 0h 19m
*Reserve not met

PMG 15 (Choice Fine). Please see images for further details regarding the item.

Numismatic lore and many auction descriptions tell the story of a fire at the then "new" Washington, DC Post Office at 12th and Pennsylvania on Friday December 13, 1935. During this event, many government records were tossed out of the sixth floor windows and into the street below, and among these records were several hundred cancelled $10,000 gold certificates. Many onlookers picked the notes up and took them home. This is the accepted explanation behind why many are found with moisture stains and a few with charring.

Newspaper accounts of the day tell us that this was one of the most unusual fires in the history of Washington, DC. The first alarm occurred shortly after midnight. The fire started in a large filing room on the sixth floor that was crammed full of flammable material, then spreading to other similar filing rooms. Hoses had to be hauled into fifth floor windows with the help of ropes and then dragged through the corridors and up the stairs to the sixth floor. These filing rooms were locked, so axes and crowbars were employed to break the doors down. Eventually, the fire would go to five alarms and fire departments as far away as Virginia and Maryland responded. The filing rooms lacked sprinkler systems and ventilation, requiring walls and floors to be breached to let the smoke out. A lack of gas masks caused 41 firemen to be overcome with smoke and taken to the hospital. Luckily, all of them would recover. In the meantime, a crowd of several thousand assembled in the street below. Files of the General Accounting Office, plus files from other government agencies were thrown out of windows (the sixth floor only had windows along one side), in order to deny the fire future nourishment. This is when the Series 1900 cancelled $10,000 Gold Certificates rained down on the lucky onlookers and eventually into the numismatic community.

Within a couple of days of the conflagration there were three different inquiries on the fire. The first theory of how the fire started was that an electric "drop" light had been resting on a large stack of papers and its 100 watt bulb caught the papers on fire. However, Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes reported on December 27, 1935 that the fire was caused by a lighted cigarette or cigar. President Franklin Roosevelt chimed in that he was shocked that Federal buildings were not under the jurisdiction of local fire departments. Congress would take swift action to correct this oversight. The fire damage was estimated at $300,000.

Due to the uniqueness of each item, please refer to the photos provided in this auction. We offer high resolution images of each item rather than a written description of condition.

This item is being shipped from the Pristine Auction warehouse.