Paper Money

Expectations are high for third Joel Anderson sale

One of the headlines from Part II of the Joel R. Anderson collection of U.S. paper money in August was that two notes sold for over a million dollars. The question for Part III in the auction, to be conducted by Stack’s Bowers Galleries on Oct. 25 in Baltimore, could be how much over $1 million could several notes go, notes that have already sold for that much.

One likely million-dollar note is the Series 1890 $1,000 Treasury note (Friedberg 379a), which bears the sobriquet “Grand Watermelon” because of its high face value and the shape of the three zeroes on its reverse side. The face bears a portrait of Union Civil War Gen. George G. Meade on the left and a large brown Treasury seal on the right. 

Five examples are known of the 16,000 originally printed. Three of them are in institutional collections: the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and San Francisco. The note being sold is one of the two in private hands and at PCGS Currency Choice About New 58 Premium Paper Quality, the best graded. 

The Anderson note has serial number A13343?. It was purchased in 2005 for $1,092,500. Bidding opens at $750,000. The inferior specimen, with serial number A3055, was on the market more recently. It sold for $1,527,500 in 2013. 

A subject of confusion among some collectors is the presence of the star after the serial number on older notes like the 1890 $1,000 issue. These notes were printed before stars were used to indicate a replacement note. In this case, a star was one of more than 20 symbols used to indicate the end of the serial number.

Another million-dollar pedigree belongs to a note that surfaced only in 2014, when it sold for $1,410,000. Until then, the only F-1215d Series 1882 $500 gold certificate known was at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank. The one being sold is called Very Fine 35 by PCGS Currency, but the grade is of no consequence, since the note is unique in private hands. The minimum bid is $600,000.

Another featured lot is also unique in private hands, an F-213 $10 refunding certificate. Refunding certificates were authorized in 1879 in an attempt to make low-denomination securities available to the public. They paid 4 percent interest until Congress stopped payments in 1907. When this unusual type of note is sold, it is always F-214, a more common and entirely different type. The F-213 note has a rainbow hue instead of a white background, space on the obverse for the name of the purchaser of the note, and an assignment form on the reverse enabling conversion of the note into a 4 percent bond. The only other example known of this type is canceled and has two corners cut off. It is at the Bureau of the Fiscal Service. 

The Anderson example was acquired at auction in 2005 for $425,500 and is estimated to sell in this October’s auction for $300,000 to $500,000. 

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