Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Emperor Norton Autograph Letter Signed "Norton I Emperor US & protector of Mexico." One page, 5" x 8", n. p. [San Francisco], n. d. The one and only "Emperor" of the United States writes to the ladies of San Francisco's German Benevolent Society, in full: "As you have taken an Interest in my Imperial Government the Emperor will be glad to greet you as [illegible] or otherwise when you may [illegible] his [illegible]." Light toning along the edges, else fine.

    One of San Francisco's best known eccentrics, Emperor Norton I proclaimed himself Emperor of the United States in 1859 and Protector of Mexico shortly thereafter. Born Joshua Abraham Norton in London around 1819, Norton immigrated to South Africa as a child. He moved to San Francisco in 1849 and found moderate success in the real estate market. Following a failed attempt to corner the rice market in 1850, which resulted in a loss of his fortune and many years of litigation, his real estate holdings were seized and, in 1858, he declared bankruptcy. His mental health altered, he left the city in self-imposed exile.

    Norton returned to the city and on September 17, 1859, declared: "At the pre-emptory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last nine years and ten months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself the Emperor of these United States..." The "Emperor", beloved by the citizens of the city of San Francisco, reigned twenty years before he collapsed on a street corner on the way to give a lecture at the California Academy of Sciences.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,144

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2018 December 9 Civil War, Militaria, Arms & Armor - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
    Howard Ballou,
    Brandon, MS
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $615,551