Paper Money

March auctions prove paper money market stability

Two auctions, two weeks apart, the first on March 18 by Lyn Knight Auctions in Rosemont, Ill., and the second by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in Baltimore on March 31, demonstrate the stability of the U.S. paper currency market. The overwhelming majority of notes offered sold and met their estimates.

The highlights of the 800-lot Knight sale were a sizable run of large- and small-size notes with fancy serial numbers. Another standout was the seventh listed $500 1934A star note from the New York district (Friedberg 2202-B*) in Paper Money Guaranty Choice Extremely Fine 45, which went for $10,9868.75 including the buyer’s fee. Among the national bank notes, the featured F-587 $5 Red Seal issue from the Steamboat Springs First National Bank (Colorado) brought $24,675 as an uncertified Very Fine. Seven lots surpassed the $10,000 mark.

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The Stack’s Bowers Baltimore sale was the first to include material originally consigned to Manifest Auctions since that company’s assets were acquired by the firm in February. Twenty-one of the sale’s 630 floor lots broke $10,000. The top three were high denomination Federal Reserve notes. A Binion Hoard 1934 $10,000 (F-2231-B) described as PCGS Currency Very Choice New 64 Apparent with minor restorations led the way at $111,625. Next were two $5,000 F-2221 issues — one from Chicago in PMG EF-40 marred by splits and an internal tear at $64,625, and one from Kansas City graded PCGS Very Choice New 64 Apparent, Minor Restorations, at $58,750. Even in these less than pristine grades, their prices show both the continued popularity of high denominations and the scarcity of $5,000 notes, for which there are reportedly only 205 pieces extant.

A discovery serial number 1 Series 1882 $5 Brown Back national, F-471, out of the Fernandina First National Bank (Florida) sold for $30,550 in PMG Choice EF-45. The note, probably the most important in the sale if not the most expensive, was from the Manifest acquisition. It is described as the finest $5 Brown Back for the state of Florida and was recently discovered in North Carolina by a fourth generation descendant of the bank’s president. It is the companion note to the also previously unknown serial number 1 $10 Fernandina Brown Back sold by Manifest in July 2015 for $58,500 in About Uncirculated. The only other number 1 Brown Backs known for Florida are an uncut pair from Key West and one each from Pensacola and Tampa. 

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