This sidebar article by Neil Shafer appeared in the November 25, 2014 issue of Numismatic News EXPRESS, and is republished
here with permission. Thanks. We've discussed Emperor Norton and his scrip many times, but I've never seen this commemorative issue from the
San Francisco Chronicle. Can anyone help? -Editor
Many collectors are more or less familiar with the story of Emperor Norton I, who lived in San Francisco during the later years of his life.
Joshua Abraham Norton was born in England on Sept. 17, 1819. He was a businessman during his earlier years. He came to San Francisco in 1849 with a
tidy sum that he used for investment in the local rice market. Just as he was about to cash in, two ships laden with rice arrived and caused him to
go bankrupt. This occurrence affected him to the point that he became irrational. It was apparent that he had lost his sense of reason as well as his
In 1859 he proclaimed himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States,” adding “Protector of Mexico” to his title a little later. He was
good-naturedly accepted by the city. His needs were given freely, and he had the “keys to the city” in effect. Sporadic paper money issued by him was
for small denominations that were accepted by the population. He died from apoplexy on Jan. 8, 1880. Many thousands of people attended his regal
The piece shown here bears no resemblance to any genuine notes Norton issued. It is dated “Issue of 1953” and I cannot figure out why. It does not
coincide with any anniversary of anything pertaining to Norton that I can ascertain. I believe the San Francisco Chronicle backed him in many ways;
that is why it is mentioned on the back. If anyone has any information as to the background of this “Gold Crown” I would appreciate knowing about it.
You can always write to me at email@example.com.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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