Paper Money

Series 1891 $5 Treasury note has something special

A Series 1891 $5 Treasury note coming up for sale at Heritage’s May 1 auction has the autograph of U.S. Treasurer John Burke in addition to the facsimile signature of Enos H. Nebeker.

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

A Series 1891 $5 Treasury note coming up for sale at Heritage’s May 1 auction in Schaumburg, Illinois, has a somewhat odd distinction: It shows the signatures of two treasurers of the United States, one above the other, and it’s not a mistake. One of them is a courtesy autograph that makes what is already an extraordinary note exceptional.

The autograph is that of John Burke, treasurer of the United States from April 1, 1913, to Jan. 5, 1921. It is to the left of the seal and above the facsimile signature of Enos H. Nebeker, treasurer from April 25, 1891, until May 31, 1893.


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The Friedberg 362 note bears the serial number B1, and is graded New 62 by PCGS Currency. It is the only serial number 1 example possible for the note, since B is the only serial number prefix used for the issue. The star after the number predates the use of stars to designate replacement notes. Here, it was used as a security device to prevent alteration of the serial number.

The note also has a regal pedigree. It first appeared as lot 289 in the Nov. 25, 1944, auction session of the Albert A. Grinnell Collection, when it was described as “superb,” and sold for $42. The Heritage catalog says it then remained off the market until 1963, when it was purchased by the current consignor, Dean Oakes, in a New York auction.

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