Paper Money

Newly discovered national bank note tops $250,000

A landmark event in paper money auctions occurred at the Lyn Knight Auctions sale on the evening of Nov. 20 in Rosemont, Ill., when three national bank notes joined an elite club by breaking the $100,000 price barrier. 

Leading the way, as expected, was something presumed nonexistent until now. Collectors tried in vain for decades to find a note from the First National Bank of Rhyolite (Nevada) (Charter No. 8686) — not surprising considering that the bank only issued a combined total of 4,292 Series 1902 Red Seal notes and Blue Seal Date Back notes with a value of $30,640. Only $295 of that amount was listed as unredeemed after 1910. This recently discovered note was one with a blue seal and the Treasury signatures of Vernon and Treat (Friedberg 618). Knight graded it Very Fine/Extremely Fine.

The bidding started at a relatively modest $60,000 and proceeded in $5,000 increments between floor and Internet participants. The Internet dropped out at $115,000 leaving the floor bidders to throw $10,000 counterpunches back and forth until the knockout occurred at $258,500 including the buyer’s fee.

The other two notes, both for a Denver bank, came from the same four-subject sheet and sold for $152,750 each, both also graded Very Fine/Extremely Fine by the auction house. They are from the first 1st Charter Period Original Series $10-$10-$10-$20 sheet issued by the First National Bank of Denver (Colorado Territory) (Charter No. 1016). They have the signatures of Colby and Spinner, the bank serial number 1 in red ink and the Treasury serial number 114278 in blue ink. The versions with blue Treasury serial number are much scarcer than those with red ink, and these two notes are the first ones known to have this combination. The sale catalog mentioned that this would likely require the assignment of new catalog numbers in the next edition of Paper Money of the United States. These will be Friedberg 411 for the $10 note and F-426 for the $20 note.

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