Newly Discovered San Francisco $5 Red Seal Offered in Winter Expo Auction

Our Official U.S. Currency auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Winter Expo is available for viewing and bidding at One highlight of the sale is lot 20342, a San Francisco, California $5 1902 Red Seal from Charter 7691 United States National Bank in PMG Choice Fine 15.

This note is sure to grab the attention of Bay Area collectors. It is the fourth note to come to light from this San Francisco issuer, and the second $5 Red Seal known on the bank. The last note to trade hands publicly from this issuer was a $5 Red Seal in a 2004 auction that realized a staggering $14,950! Given the demand for rare Red Seals among collectors, and this example being from one of California’s most famous cities, we would not be surprised if this note brings a similar figure. It has what would later be called a “forbidden title” under the Act of May 24, 1926, which stipulated National Banks could not use “United States” in their names, unless already in use.

The United States National Bank of San Francisco was chartered on April 1, 1905 and issued $406,050 during its short lifetime. The bank was liquidated on New Year’s Eve of 1908. As of 1910, $46,335 was reported outstanding on the bank. Since the bank closed 114 years ago, just four notes have come forth publicly as survivors, according to Track & Price. The bank survived the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, in which over 80% of the city was destroyed by the quake and subsequent fire. Over 3,000 people died during the disaster. Perhaps this tragedy and ensuing economic slump resulted in the failure of this charter.

We are currently taking consignments for our March Spring Expo Auction and our ongoing monthly auctions. To consign your U.S. paper money and world paper money to a future sale, contact a consignment specialist at 800-458-4646 or visit  For more information on viewing lots or for assistance in registering to bid, email your inquiry to: [email protected]​.

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