Rare Hawaiian currency available in Kagin’s auction
- Published: Feb 25, 2021, 8 AM
A selection of rare Hawaiian currency is one of the lead offerings in the March 12 Kagin’s auction. “The Aloha Hawaiian Collection” includes high-grade examples of the earliest and rarest Hawaiian scrip currency. Each note is graded by Paper Money Guarantee and listed in Hawaiian Money by Donald Medcalf and Ronald Russell.
Hawaii’s sugar industry started in 1835 on the Island of Kauai when Ladd & Company signed a lease with King Kamehameha III and then issued scrip in 1837 to pay workers. This is the earliest Hawaiian currency. The company went bankrupt and the government seized its assets.
The better of only two reported known notes, a PMG Crisp Uncirculated 63 eighth-hapawalu note was last sold in the Superior February 1975 sale of the A.J. Ostheimer Collection. It is overprinted on “Amateur Theater” tickets and is estimated to sell for at least $20,000 in the current auction.
A rarely seen or offered 1844 Wailuku Female Seminary 1-hapaumi (approximately 10 cents) note is the finest of only five or six known, with a grade of PMG Crisp Uncirculated 63. The seminary opened in July 1837 in Wailuku, Maui, and was dedicated to teaching domestic arts to native girls. Missionaries had imported a printing press to Honolulu in 1820 and in 1833 it was shipped to the Lahainaluna Seminary. At the time there was an acute shortage of coins to pay the male employees, so in 1844 scrip was printed in red on thin cardboard. The offered piece is estimated at $15,000 to $25,000.
Additional 1-hapaumi notes were made to order for sugar manufacturer Edward Bailey with the counter-print “Edward Bailey” added. It is unknown how many of these were made, but only a few are known today. The offered example is graded Very Fine 35.
A unique 1844 “Bernard” Money note is, according to the cataloger, making its only public appearance in over a half century. John Bernard, and an Englishman, Godfrey Rhodes, leased 150 acres of land in Hanalei, Kauai, from the Hawaiian government. Bernard had $850 worth of notes printed by the Lahainaluna Seminary with “Bernard” counter-printed on them. The note in the auction is the only known Hookahi dollar. The note, with a map of the Hawaiian islands, is graded About Uncirculated 50.
Also offered is a cut sheet set of six denominations of Lahainaluna Seminary currency, provisionally first in six lots and then as a single lot with a starting bid of 5% more than the total of the individual prices. It is believed by the cataloger to be possibly the finest known cut sheet. Grades for the individual notes range from Uncirculated 62 to Choice Uncirculated 64.
The sale also includes territorial national bank notes and World War II emergency currency, including two $5 star notes.
Additional Hawaiian currency, coins and medals and U.S. currency, encased postage stamps and more can be viewed online at www.Kagins.com.
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