A true rarity, more specifically a “condition rarity,” was the highlight of the Lyn Knight Currency Auctions sale during the Chicago Paper Money Expo in Rosemont, Ill., March 8 to 10.
Fewer than 100 examples are recorded of Series 1864 $10 compound interest Treasury notes, Friedberg 190b (Paper Money of the United States by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg). Even with so few known, this note is by far the most common one in the compound interest category, and of this small sample, all but five are graded Very Fine or lower.
The note in the auction, serial number 84800, was graded by the cataloger as “Gem Crisp Uncirculated.” It is the only note known in this quality, certainly the finest extant, and most likely the only one available for sale.
This piece has a long pedigree — from collector-dealer F.C.C. Boyd in the mid-20th century, to New Netherlands Coin Co., to Robert Friedberg (the writer’s father), and next to the Kagin family.
When it was last sold, also by Knight in 2002, it brought $55,775. At the 2012 auction it realized a healthy $51,750, including the 15 percent buyer’s fee. Impressive offerings among the large-size legal tender and United States notes included the $100 legal tender note of 1862 (F-165), with the well-known “Spread Eagle” vignette, which brought $46,000 in Very Fine 25.
The gold certificates were highlighted by a new find, a Series 1882 $100 gold certificate with the signature combination of Register of the Treasury James C. Napier and Treasurer of the United States Carmi A. Thompson (F-1211). In Gem 65 quality, this note is described in the catalog as the finest of about 50 known specimens and only one other piece is listed as Uncirculated. The gold certificate in the CPMX auction sold for $43,700.
Another notable part of the CPMX auction by Lyn Knight was called the “Billy Key Collection.” It is an example of a collection based on an interest in unusual and uncommon serial numbers on what are often otherwise common notes.
Highlighting the collection is a set of three serial number 1 silver certificates Series 1928A and 1928B (F-1601 to F-1602). These were printed as an experiment to test the use of different kinds of paper, which were differentiated by serial numbers beginning with X, Y, and Z.
The three notes in this set sold for $25,300; all are in Uncirculated condition.
The Key Collection also had nearly a dozen notes with serial number 99999999, and numerous other solid serial numbers.
Finally, in the error section, there was the greatest of all paper money errors, a double-denomination note.
This one was a Series 1934D $5 face and $10 back Federal Reserve note. Graded Gem New 67, it ranks as the finest known and was hammered down for a not-unexpected $36,800.
As has become a Knight custom, the entire first auction session was devoted to world paper money, where 687 lots went on the block.
A majority of the third session was dedicated to the sale of more than 750 lots of large- and small-size national bank notes.