They Lyn Knight currency auction Friday session at
the Memphis International Paper Money Show June 19 was cataloged in
The first of them, leading off the evening, was “The Rickey
Collection of Large Size Star Notes,” 289 lots of one of the more
specialized subsets of paper currency. Star notes, notes used as
replacements for ones found defective after production, are common in
the small-size arena, but far less so among large-size notes. They did
not exist until 1910. Stars on any earlier notes were decorative only,
and although from 1910 until 1929 about 95 million star notes
reportedly were printed, we do not know how many were put into
circulation. Fewer than 9,000 are recorded today.
The Rickey Collection was assembled over 15 years. It included each
of the 29 types of large size stars known, with the exception of the
noncollectible Series 1918 $10 and $20 Federal Reserve Bank notes.
Many of the notes are the finest known of their type. A few stood out.
Foremost among them was one of only three $10 1923 United States notes
(Friedberg 123*), which, while graded only Fine 15 by PCGS Currency,
still brought $82,250. At $64,625, going for more than double what it
last sold for in 2011, was a unique $10 silver certificate of 1908
(F-303*), the “Tombstone Note” with the bust of Vice President Thomas
A. Hendricks. It was graded by PMG as Very Good 10. Immediately after
that was the finest known of six 1891 $20 silver certificates of
(F-321*). Graded by PCGS Currency as Extremely Fine 45, it sold for $35,250.
All but two of the 20 $50 and $100 Federal Reserve notes sold for
more than $10,000. The most significant of these, at $21,150, was a PCGS Currency Very Fine 30 Premium Paper Quality
Series 1914 $50 FRN from the St. Louis district (F-1053*). It is the
only one known from this bank, and, as an added bonus, has serial
The leading bidder in this section of the auction is a stellar
illustration of how much the business of shows and auctions for both
coins and paper money has evolved over the last decade. This leading
bidder was not sitting on the floor holding up a number, nor on the
telephone, nor represented by a mail bid in a book on the table.
Instead, more lots went to live bidding on the Internet than to any
other venue. Only the auctioneer knows how many bid successfully via
this medium — a situation that is inconvenient for the curious but a
bonanza for those who want to build a collection in anonymity or who
don’t feel like leaving the comfort of home.
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