Rare British Honduras note one of few available
- Published: Nov 18, 2017, 5 AM
Stack’s Bowers Galleries will be offering one of only three known 1894 British Honduras $1 notes at its Jan. 12 to 13 auction in New York City. The note is from the first British Honduras issue, of which no issued examples are known of any of the five higher denominations. The other two known examples of this denomination are the Pick plate note, which is in terrible quality, and one reportedly in a private British Honduras collection. The upcoming auction piece is graded Very Fine 20 Net, Splits and Rust, by Paper Money Guaranty, and is estimated at $30,000 to $50,000.
It is signed by E.B. Sweet-Escott, as colonial secretary (later governor) of British Honduras, and commissioners of currency C. Melhado and H.C. Usher. The design features floral borders, lathe work and stars within circles. The note bears Crown above CC (for Crown Colony) watermarks, an official ink stamp indicating Belize as the city of issue, and the date OC[tober] 17, 94. The left margin is serrated where a counterfoil was once attached.
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The note has an interesting history and pedigree. The auctioneer says in a press release that it is even rarer and more desirable than the elusive Zanzibar notes that have recently sold for record prices. The 1894 British Honduras issue was withdrawn and destroyed after only two months, while the Zanzibar series ran for 20 years. The note issuance for British Honduras was scaled for an insignificant colonial backwater with a minuscule population and economy, while Zanzibar was for centuries one of the world’s major spice sources and slave exporters, operating as an international seaport at the nexus of the trade routes of Africa, Arabia, India, and Asia.
The note is from the family of Albert E. Morlan, who acquired it in Belize when it was issued. He was there because he was named the American consul in Belize by President Chester A. Arthur in 1882. After quitting to set up a business in New Orleans, with branches in Belize and other Central American cities, he was reappointed consul by Grover Cleveland in 1895.
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When he died in 1926, the note passed to his son Edward, from Edward to his son, Charles, and from Charles to his daughter, the consignor and the great-granddaughter of Albert.
Visit the firm’s website to see other lots in the auction.
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