Paper Money

A discovery note in November auction

A discovery note in November auction 1875 $1 United States note with serial number 1

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After the frenzy of auction activity at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in August and the Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo in September, U.S. paper money took a breather in October, giving us the opportunity to focus on some future developments.

The discovery of a new serial number 1 note by Stephen Goldsmith of Spink Smythe leads the list. What makes this Series 1875 $1 United States note enigmatic is that every other Friedberg 26 note known (Paper Money of the United States by Arthur L. Friedberg and Ira S. Friedberg) has at least a five-digit serial number.

How can this be possible? The answer was revealed when its owner identified one of her grandfathers as Albert U. Wyman, United States treasurer, whose signature appears on the note. The owner said that her aunt told her that Wyman used to give her aunt “something valuable every year for Christmas.”

This made it clear that despite the numeric anomaly, the note was genuine and that it was saved as a family memento. The question for a diligent researcher is what, if anything, happened to the notes after number 1 (this note has the prefix letter N in the serial number)?

Some families have more luck with mementos than others, and another discovery from the same source (and a second grandfather, J.B. Brown) is a $5 Brown Back (F-467) national bank note for the National Bank of Ashland (Nebraska). The note is hand-signed by Brown as president.

This is the first $5 note of this type known and only the second Brown Back note — the other is a $20 note. Both notes will be offered for sale in Spink Smythe’s Nov. 15 to 16 “Collector’s Series” auction at its offices in New York City.

Collectors will have to continue to wait for the new Series 2009 $100 Federal Reserve note to make its appearance.

The notes, with advanced anti-counterfeiting features, were to have been released into circulation in February 2011, yet as of this writing Bureau of Engraving and Printing officials are reviewing sheets of notes that were pulled during printing at the BEP’s Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

The problem was creasing in the paper, probably where the blue, three-dimensional security strip is woven into the paper. Latest reports are that the problem is close to being solved but that we should not expect to see the new $100 FRNs released until sometime in 2012. ¦

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