Memphis THE place for paper money

U.S., Philippine notes go home with happy bidders
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Published : 06/21/12
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The signature event in North American paper money collecting took place in Memphis, Tenn., July 7 to 10.
As usual, the International Paper Money Show, now 36 years old, offered something for everyone, and since taken over by Lyn Knight several years ago, it has only gotten better.

The bourse floor was filled with more than 150 tables with dealers from as far away as China and as close as the host city itself. More than a dozen speakers addressed a variety of topics relating to United States and world paper money, and two full rows of exhibits were on view, one of the most impressive of which was on 19th century counterfeit detection publications and paraphernalia.

Of course, the highlight of any gathering such as this is the affiliated auction, which was conducted by Lyn Knight Currency Auctions. Thirteen sessions were conducted ­— four live in Memphis, and nine others on “Knight Live,” which is Knight’s auction website.

The Memphis auction included the continuation of the James W. “Billy” Key Collection of small-size notes, which was a remarkable assemblage of “fancy” serial numbers. Every one of the 186 lots in this part of the auction sold.

National bank notes as well were well-represented, with quite a few lots breaking the $10,000 level, with the most impressive being the $70,000 realized by an Original Series, First Charter Period $5 national bank note from Salem, N.C., Friedberg 470 (Paper Money of the United States by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg), in Very Fine condition.

Also of significance was a run of five national gold bank notes of California from three different banks, a pair of compound-interest Treasury notes (F-190a and 190b), and a high grade refunding certificate (F-214), which at $3,800 in Extremely Fine condition made for a very happy buyer.

A Series 1907 $10 gold certificate (F-1170) graded Gem New 65, and the only Uncirculated example graded by PCGS Currency, was purchased for $30,000. Only 30 of this Friedberg number are recorded so far, but this note is the finest known.

The final live session on June 10 offered the Dr. Greg Pineda Philippine Collection of coins and paper money. This is probably the finest such collection ever assembled, and the results proved it when, of the 736 lots in the sale, 27 lots (nine coin lots and 18 paper money lots) each sold for more than $10,000.
Eyes are now turning to the annual American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia Aug. 7 to 11.

The aptly named “Watermelon Collection” will highlight the paper money auction activities at the ANA show. The Series 1890 $100 Treasury or coin note (F-377) gives its name to the sale (the shapes of the zeros on the back resemble watermelons).

We will also be watching, among other lots, the finest known Series 1886 $10 silver certificate, F-292, graded About Uncirculated 58; and a few high-denomination large-size notes: a Series 1918 $500 Federal Reserve note (F-1132b) in Very Fine 30; a Series 1918 $1,000 FRN in Extremely Fine 45 (F-1133b); and the rare Series 1882 $1,000 gold certificate (F-1218f), which even in VF condition should bring a hefty five-figure sum. ■

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