Paper Money

FUN show reflects strong paper money market

This Series 1934 $5,000 Federal Reserve note sold for $223,250 by Heritage Auctions during the 2015 FUN show. The note was graded Very Choice New 64 Premium Paper Quality by PCGS Currency.

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

February was a quiet month for U.S. paper money with the public auction scene taking a hiatus before a series of numismatic shows in late-winter and spring 2015.

The March 5 to 8 Chicago Paper Money Show in Rosemont, Ill., is on the list; as is the March 5 to 7 American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Portland, Ore; then the March 26 to 29 Whitman Baltimore Spring Expo; and then the April 22 to 25 Central States Numismatic Society convention in Schaumburg, Ill.

That leaves a two-month gap in activity from the end of the early-January Florida United Numismatists show, and time to reflect on the state of the trade during the opening quarter.

The 7,400-lot Heritage Currency Auction sale at the FUN show Jan. 7 to 12, yielded close to $10 million (including the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee) in sales, so the market is clearly strong. 

Four of the top five prices realized, and six of the top 12, were for high denomination small-size notes. The top price was $223,250 for a Series 1934 Dallas $5,000 Federal Reserve note, Friedberg 2221-K. The note graded Very Choice New 64 Premium Paper Quality by PCGS Currency. A Series 1934 New York $10,000 FRN, F-2231-B, graded Choice Uncirculated 63 by Paper Money Guaranty, was in second place at $188,000. 

A Series 1870 $5 note issued for the First National Gold Bank of San Francisco (F-1136) sold for $70,500. The note was graded Extremely Fine 40 PPQ by PCGS Currency. 

It is a rare occurrence to find a national gold bank note in a condition better than Fine. The fact that this note is apparently in its original condition, and has the PPQ designation, probably makes it the most significant lot in the auction.

Obsolete notes were the single largest category in the auction and an 1857 $500 note proof for the Bank of Commerce in Savannah, Ga., sold for $56,400. 

Fractional currency continues to lag behind, for reasons that are hard to understand. They are an embodiment of the history of the Civil War; good, lucid references on the subject are available; the notes are plentiful and easy to collect; and they are low in price except for great rarities. 

A complete collection of fractional notes by Friedberg number would total about 150 pieces, very few of which are in the “impossible” category. They are among the rare collectibles that are of philatelic as well as numismatic interest. 

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