Paper Money

ANA paper money auctions: $3.25 million in notes: Market Analysis

A $5 1902 Blue Seal national bank note with Plain Back in PCGS Currency Superb Gem New 68 Premium Paper Quality from the First National Bank of Fairbanks, Alaska, sold for $129,250 at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries ANA auction.

Image courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries

The paper money auctions conducted at the American Numismatic Association convention in Rosemont, Ill., Aug. 15 to 16 yielded more than $3.25 million worth of sales for just 377 notes. The two sales, one by Heritage Auctions, followed by a Stack’s Bowers Galleries session, confirmed the consensus within the trade of a small amount of softness for issues that are in plentiful supply, but the possibility of unbridled exuberance whenever something extraordinary surfaces.

Forty-two of the 108 lots in the Heritage sale sold for more than $10,000 each, with the buyer’s fee. The five highest were small-size high-denomination issues: Two $5,000 notes (Friedberg 2221-B and 2221-J), the former in PCGS Currency Choice Uncirculated 63 for $129,250 and the latter PCGS Currency Extremely Fine 45 for $111,625; two examples of the $10,000 F-2231-B, one graded Choice Uncirculated 63 by PCGS Currency and the other EF-40, each of which went for $129,250; and at $105,750 a $500 1928 gold certificate (F-2407) in Paper Money Guaranty Gem Uncirculated 65.

Two large-size type notes shared top billing in that category at $54,050. The first was an F-163 $50 1880 United States note in Very Fine 30 Net by PMG. This is the seventh known of this number and only its fourth appearance on the market in two decades. The “net” description is the consequence of a small restoration. The other was the famous “Technicolor Note,” the brilliantly hued $20 1905 gold certificate (F-1180) graded Gem Uncirculated 66 Exceptional Paper Quality by PMG, with a pedigree extending back to the legendary William Philpott.

The figure $129,250 was a popular number in Chicago, as it was also the top result at the Stack’s Bowers sale that consisted mostly of large-size notes. The note at that price was one the catalog called the “finest territorial note in existence,” a $5 1902 Blue Seal national bank note with Plain Back (F-598) in PCGS Currency Superb Gem New 68 Premium Paper Quality from the First National Bank of Fairbanks, Alaska. 

Another eagerly anticipated national was a newly discovered 1882 Brown Back $5 note (F-470) from Glenwood Springs, Colo. It sold for $49,937.50 in VF-25 condition.

At $64,625, obliterating a pre-sale estimate of $15,000 to $20,000, were a pair of uniface color proofs for one of the first Federal currency issues, the $20 demand note of 1861 (F-11). PMG graded the face specimen Choice Uncirculated 64 and the back Uncirculated 62. The last time a regular issue of the note sold, in 2011, it was for $80,500 in Fine condition. 

The $61,875.50 bid for a rare F-197a 1864 $20 interest-bearing note in PCGS Currency VF-25 broke (by $1,500) the previous record for the note, a PCGS Currency VF-30 example sold in 2011.

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