Paper Money

The 2021 ‘NYINC’ paper money auctions were truly international

The two world paper money auctions affiliated with the canceled New York International Numismatic Convention were held a few hours and 5,400 miles apart on Jan. 15, one by Spink in London and the other by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in Newport Beach, California. Despite the absence of live public participation, results from both sales were promising.

Spink claimed three world record prices. The highest was the £32,400 (or $44,000) including the buyer’s fee, for a Government of Sarawak $1 note dated 1 July 1919, with a low red serial number of 2. The face has the bust of Charles Vyner Brooke, the third and last White Rajah of Sarawak at the top left, an allegorical maiden with beehive and anchor representing Industry and Commerce at top center, and laureate arms at top right. The back is blank. Its grade of Choice Very Fine 35 by Paper Money Guaranty is 15 points higher than the next best example of the note listed in the Track & Price World Paper Money census. The previous record for the note was $27,070 for a Fine example sold by Spink in 2011.

The £18,000 ($24,500) paid for a Legacy Currency Grading Gem New 65 Premium Paper Quality Lebanese 100-livre specimen note dated 1945 from the Banque de Syrie et du Liban exceeded by $5,300 the $19,200 that a similar PMG-graded note brought in September. The intricately designed multicolored note is perforation canceled. On the face is a zero serial number, and an ornate Arabesque design in the field, with the value in Arabic in black at top left and right. The back shows a cedar tree at right, Mount Lebanon at left, and the value in red above, both left and right.

The third record was also one of the sale’s big surprises when a 1918 500-ruble Debenture Bond issue of North Russia’s anti-Bolshevik Tchaikovsky government sold for £15,600 ($21,200), after being given a probably erroneous estimate of £150 to £190. It was graded by Spink as Almost Extremely Fine. The same note in Fine condition was sold in Germany last October for €8,500 (or $10,250).

Stack’s Bowers Galleries stars

The star of the Stack’s Bowers sale was the only PMG-certified Royal Canadian Bank 1865 $2 note. It is listed in the Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Bank Notes with the notation “No Known Issued Notes.” This note, with a blue serial number 14468 was obviously issued. It was printed by American Bank Note Company. The central vignette has a circular coat of arms surrounded by a lion at left and unicorn at right. The portrait on the left of the face side is of the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, who in 1860 visited North America and laid the cornerstone of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. On the right is a seated woman with a basket of produce. The back is composed of lathework in dark brown ink and has an interesting handwritten annotation “Taken From Mr. Thomas Dupree/1 April 1866/The First in Pembroke.” The other end of the note reads “Pembroke April 6 1866.”

This is the sole note of the type to be graded by PMG, who assigned it a grade of Very Fine 25. It sold for $30,000.

The next highest result, at $24,000, was a scarce Panama 1941 10-balboa note, issued by El Banco Central de Emision de la Republica de Panama and dubbed the “Arias Issue.”

President Dr. Arnulfo Arias was elected president in 1940. He was deposed in a coup the next year. Before his exit, he allowed private banks to issue currency, but El Banco Central was the only one that did so. The note, printed by Hamilton Banknote Company of New York, was issued on Oct. 2, 1941, and Arias was booted out a week later. The bank was closed, and all notes were pulled from circulation. PMG has graded 10 of these. This one was designated Very Fine 25.

Canadian currency made up four of the top 10 prices realized for Stack’s Bowers. At $16,800 was a Dominion of Canada $1 note, 1898 in PMG Choice Uncirculated 63 EPQ. The attractive design has a vignette of a quartet of lumberjacks in the center flanked by portraits of the Count and Countess of Aberdeen. He was governor general throughout the terms of four prime ministers. She is credited with lasting contributions to Canadian society.

The back has the Parliament building in Ottawa at center, flanked by ornate designs.

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