Paper Money

Two rare $1,000 Treasury notes in auction

A very scarce “Grand Watermelon” note and another rare $1,000 note are expected to command more than $1 million each when offered in the Heritage Auctions Platinum Night Auction April 26.

The auction will be conducted in conjunction with the April 24 to 29 Central States Numismatic Society convention at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel in Schaumburg, Ill.

The two large-size $1,000 Treasury notes (also called coin notes), one each of Series 1890 and 1891, will be among the U.S. and world paper money to be offered at the Heritage Auctions sale.

The Grand Watermelon note — a Series 1890 $1,000 Treasury note — got its nickname because of the back design features three green zeros in the denomination 1000 that resemble watermelons.

A portrait of Union Army Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, very ornate engraving and a large brown Treasury seal with spikes appear on the face of the note, cataloged as Friedberg 379a in Paper Money of the United States by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg.

The signatures on the note are of William S. Rosecrans as register of the Treasury and J.N. Huston as treasurer of the United States. PCGS Currency graded the note Extremely Fine 45 Apparent for edge restorations and filled pinholes.

“This note is very scarce, just two in private hands for this Friedberg number, and one other unique example, the Fr. 379b,” according to Dustin Johnston, director of currency auctions at Heritage Auctions. “In terms of importance to currency collectors, it is probably on par with the 1804 dollar.”

The other note to be auctioned is a Series 1891 $1,000 Treasury note, F-379c. The note features an “open back” design, with open areas where blue and red paper fibers can be seen, making the design more difficult to counterfeit.

The face of the Series 1891 note is nearly identical to the F-379a, Series 1890 note, but the 1891 note features a small, red, scalloped Treasury seal and the signatures of Register of the Treasury James F. Tillman and Treasurer of the United States Daniel N. Morgan. The note is graded Extremely Fine 45 Premium Paper Quality by PCGS Currency.

The Series 1891 note is unique in collector hands, as the only other known survivor is in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection.

Treasury or coin notes have the smallest number of series, varieties, signatures and seals of any other kind of U.S. paper money. These notes were issued under the Legal Tender Act of July 14, 1890, which authorized the Treasury secretary to issue the notes in payment for silver bullion purchased by the Treasury Department, according to the Friedberg book.

The notes were redeemable in actual coin, “but whether silver or gold coin should be paid out was left to the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury,” according to the Friedberg book.

For more information, contact Heritage Auctions, 3500 Maple Avenue, 17th Floor, Dallas, Texas 75219-3941, visit the firm’s website at or call the firm at 800-872-6467. ¦

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