Paper Money

Heritage's major earnings: Paper Money Analysis

The April Signature Currency Auction’s overall price leader at $199,750 was the $100 Treasury or coin note. The note was graded VF-30 PPQ by PCGS Currency. Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The nearly 6,000 lots offered for sale in Heritage’s April 22 to 28 Currency Signature Auction in Schaumburg, Ill., resulted in total sales of $10,102,103 including the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee.

The sale featured selections from the collection of Eric P. Newman, but with more than 4,000 lots spread over five floor session and another two sessions confined to the Internet, it ran the gamut of collectible paper currency. The Newman component, at 910 lots, formed the heart of the auction, and was not surprisingly responsible for almost half of the top 50 prices realized.

A total of 57 pieces sold for more than $25,000 each, but in contrast to some other times, only 18 of those were large-size type notes with another 14 large-size national bank notes.

Continuing the recent trend, 12 lots were small-size high-denomination notes, including six of the top 10 and four of the five that exceeded $100,000. Leading them, at $164,500, was a $5,000 1934 Chicago Federal Reserve note (Friedberg 2221-G) graded by Paper Money Guaranty as Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ. Close behind, at $135,125, was a $10,000 1934 issue (F-2231-B) also graded Choice Uncirculated 64 but by PCGS Currency.

The highest graded $500 1928 gold certificate (F-2407), graded Gem New 65 PPQ by PCGS Currency, went for $105,750. When this note was last sold in 2006 it realized $41,400. 

Not surprisingly, the sale’s overall price leader, at $199,750, was the $100 1890 Treasury or coin note (F-377), featured in the May 18 Coin World. It was graded Very Fine 30 Premium Paper Quality by PCGS Currency.

One of 28 known $100 1869 legal tender notes, known as a “Rainbow note” because of the color embedded in the paper to deter counterfeiting, sold for $99,875 graded PCGS Currency VF-30, a price smack in the middle of its $80,000 to $120,000 estimate. 

Six Treasury notes of the War of 1812 were offered. These were issued to finance the war, and although no longer legal tender, they were the first circulating paper currency issued by the United States. Their prices realized ranged from $8,812.50 for a VF $10 (F-TN-14a) note, which for an 1812 Treasury note ranks as one of the more common types, up to $34,075 for a PCGS Currency AU-58 $5 (F-TN-15a) said by Heritage to be the finest it has seen. The most interesting of the group was a $3 denomination (F-TN-16) in PCGS Currency Crisp Uncirculated 64 reaching $28,200. The $3 bills are regularly encountered among obsolete currency issues but this is the only note of the denomination ever issued by the United States government.

The biggest bargain of the night, possibly a result of it being the last note on an evening long since turned to early morning, was the $50/$100 double-denomination 1882 Brown Back (F-512) national bank note from the Aetna National Bank of Kansas City, Mo. Although graded only Very Good 10 Apparent by PCGS Currency, it is one of only two notes of this type known and the first to appear on the market since the Albert A. Grinnell Collection in 1945. It brought $70,500 on an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. The Grinnell sale had the only other known $50/$100 note and its sheet mate, a $100/$50 note from Albuquerque, New Mexico Territory, in one lot. The price realized was $830, the highest price in a session for which the total proceeds for 902 lots was $46,662.50.

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