Paper Money

First Series $100 United States note heads to auction

If there is such a thing as a “King of Small Size Number 1 Notes,” lot 19825 in the Lyn Knight Auction U.S. Paper Money Sale on June 8 is a leading contender.

The number A00000001A Series 1966 $100 United States note (Friedberg 1550) is the first note of the series printed, and can be traced back to the collection of Amon Carter Jr.

Its first appearance on the market since 2004 comes with a starting price of $90,000 and a minimum estimate of $150,000. It is graded by the cataloger as Very Choice Crisp Uncirculated.

An interesting question posed in the catalog is why was this note, of which only 768,000 were printed, even issued in the first place? The answer most likely has to do with the law concerning United States notes, or Legal Tender notes as they are also known.

The Act of May 3, 1878, stipulated that the amount of United States notes outstanding must be maintained at a face value $346,681,016. Small-size United States notes had been issued in $1 (Series 1928 only), $2, and $5 denominations. The Treasury Department apparently decided that the easiest way to meet the statutory requirement was to print notes of high denominations, thus reaching the face value requirement with fewer notes, instead of printing 20 to 50 times more low denomination notes.

The Act of 1878 was finally repealed in 1993. Notes remaining in the Treasury’s storage facilities to meet the legal requirements were eventually destroyed.

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