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NNP Blog

Sep 15 2019

Emperor Norton Biography

Recently added to Newman Portal is Albert Dressler’s biography of “Emperor Norton,” the colorful self-proclaimed California king, who issued a number of 19th century bonds or scrip in the name of “The Imperial Government of Norton I.” Joshua Abraham Norton (1818-1880) was born in England, and came to San Francisco in 1849. Norton was unsuccessful in business but apparently a compelling personality, one that might have been more richly rewarded in today’s culture, an environment more willing to support the eccentric celebrity. He paraded about San Francisco in full regalia and issued various and sundry edicts abolishing the U.S. Constitution, demanding that church leaders officially recognize him as “Empower,” etc. His scrip was accepted in local restaurants, akin to the modern artist J.S.G. Boggs, whose stylized adaptations of U.S. money were originally passed as “money.” Today both Norton and Boggs notes are highly collectible and usually worth much more than face value.

Link to Emperor Norton of United States
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