Paper Money

Colonial notes surge above $30,000 in Kagin's sale from Ford collection

A January 1723 20-shilling note of Pennsylvania was bid to $50,400 in Kagin’s September auction of notes from the John J. Ford Jr. Collection. It is graded by PCGS Banknote as Extremely Fine 40 with remnants of mounting.

Original images courtesy of Kagin’s Auctions.

Three of the lots in Kagin’s Auctions’ Sept. 23 online sale of Colonial currency from the legendary collection of John J. Ford Jr. surged past $30,000 (including the buyer’s fee). All three pieces are plate notes in the 2023 edition of Eric P. Newman’s The Early Paper Money of America.

A Province of Pennsylvania 20-shilling note dated Jan. 17, 1723, is listed as Friedberg PA-15 without a price in Paper Money of the United States. It realized $50,400 graded by PCGS Banknote at Extremely Fine 40 with remnants of mounting. In the original Ford sale in May 2004, it sold for $17,250, a price that, for the times, the cataloger called “stupendous.” Bidding in the Kagin’s auction started at $8,000, less than the final buyer’s fee.

A rarity from “Ye Colony of Rhoad (sic) Island and Providence Plantations in New England,” hammered at $30,000, beat its price in the Ford 2004 sale by only $4,700 despite its extraordinary rarity. The Friedberg RI-1 2-shilling note was described by PCGS Banknote as Very Good-10 Details, Severed and Reattached, Minor Design Redrawn, Double Backed. The note is from the first Rhode Island issue and is dated Aug. 16, 1710. The eight denominations were 2 shillings; 2 shillings, sixpence; 5 shillings; 10 shillings; 20 shillings; 40shillings; £3; and £5.

The numerical denomination was raised to “20 s” at the top to the right of the serial number but there was no room to alter the spelled-out value, so it contained the inscription TWO SHILLINGS.

As is common with Colonial currency, counterfeits were a problem. Fake £3 notes were prevalent enough that the entire issue was declared invalid as of May 1, 1719.

The above two pieces have a pedigree that reaches back long before John Ford, to the estate of F.C.C. (Frederick Charles Cogswell) Boyd, who dealt frequently with Ford in the 1950s.

The triumvirate is completed by another Pennsylvania issue that according to Newman, Benjamin Franklin claimed to have printed but was actually produced by Andrew Bradford. The Friedberg PA-24 2-shilling note of Sept. 15, 1729, a Very Fine 25 note with repairs, brought $31,200. It sold for $7,187.50 in the Ford 2004 auction.

This was Kagin’s second auction devoted to the Ford collection. The first was held on May 20 this year. There were 516 lots in total. The complete catalog can be viewed at

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