Paper Money

Large-size notes dominate high-end lots in auction

An assortment of high quality or rare large-size issues dominates the upper end of the upcoming Stack’s Bowers Galleries currency auction in Baltimore on Nov. 4 to 6. 

Leading the way, after the unique Friedberg 212b interest-bearing note (see separate story, page 1, with estimated prices of from $30,000 to $40,000 each, are three iconic silver certificates, every one graded Superb Gem New by PCGS Currency. 

Friedberg 263, an 1886 $5 silver certificate, is the famous “Silver Dollar Back note” with a numerical grade of New 66 Premium Paper Quality. Next is a Series 1896 $5 “Educational note” (F-268) graded New 67 PPQ. 

The third is a Series 1899 $5 “Indian Chief note” (F-271), common in lesser grades, but a rarity in Gem New 68 PPQ; PCGS Currency has given this high a grade to only four of the more than 1,200 notes recorded, and Paper Money Guaranty, to just one. 

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Also appearing in the upper level of silver certificates were two F-245 Series 1891 $2 notes (depicting William Windom), each in Gem New 67, one graded so by PCGS Currency, the other by PMG.

A cut sheet of Series 1891 $20 Treasury notes (F-375) graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 Exceptional Paper Quality is estimated at $30,000 to $50,000. The group shows show A-B-C-D plate position notes in consecutive order, recreating the sheet of four as originally printed. 

At about $30,000 is a Series 1890 version of the $20 Treasury note (F-372) graded Extremely Fine 40 by PCGS Currency. The intricate, ornate backs of the Series 1890 notes make them popular today, but the series was short-lived because of potential counterfeiting problems.

The last large size $10 United States note (F-123), the Series 1923 issue, which is called the “Poker Chip note” because it looks as if there are two poker chips on the back, is another example a of a note that becomes exceedingly rare in the highest conditions. At PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ, this is one of only 20 at this level or higher out of a known population of 515. Estimated in the same $25,000 range is one of only 64 recorded $50 1869 Rainbow Note (F-151) graded Very Fine 30 by PMG. 

The auction also offers two Series 1861 $5 demand notes — the very first federal currency issued. 

The first is a newly discovered note payable at the Treasury Office in Cincinnati, the scarcest of the five different locations. This is only the sixth known F-4 note and, even graded by PMG as a lowly Choice Fine 15 Net with tape repairs, it is the finest known. It is estimated at $12,500 to $17,500. 

The other demand note, with the same estimate, is an F-5 issue payable at St. Louis and rated PMG VF-20 Net with minor repairs. It is one of nine known.

In total, 33 lots in the 839-lot sale have a low estimate, each, of at least $10,000.

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