Paper Money

Paper money auction season poised to resume

The spring paper money auction season kicks off March 18 to 20 in Rosemont, Ill., at the annual paper money show there, with a sale conducted by Lyn F. Knight Auctions of Overland Park, Kan. It will be soon followed March 30 to April 1 by a Stacks’s Bowers Galleries auction at the Whitman Expo in Baltimore. 

Although the Stack’s Bowers auction will be diverse, its highlights are large-size notes. A newly discovered $5 demand note of 1861 (Friedberg 1) graded Very Fine 25 by Paper Money Guaranty is one. Another is a $5 national gold bank note from the First National Gold Bank of San Francisco (F-1136). Though the most common of all national gold bank notes, it should draw attention because its grade, PCGS Currency VF-30 Apparent, is unusual for a class of currency in which most examples are worn. The usual Educational Notes, Bison notes and more are offered, which, while not rare, when in superb condition bring prices reflecting both their popularity and a premium for quality.

A successful auction does not need to be attached a show and, in a throwback to times past, with “The Rarities Auction,” Stack’s Bowers, in conjunction with Sotheby’s, proved it. The sale on Feb. 10 contained 258 lots of U.S. coins, medals and Americana but led off with 48 exclusive currency offerings including 14 large-size type notes. Only three of these graded less than Uncirculated and the most important of them all, a $500 1918 Federal Reserve note from Cleveland (F-1132-D) was assigned a grade by PMG of VF-30. According to Track & Price, it is only the 15th known and only three of these are in slightly better condition. It sold for $28,200 including buyer’s fee. 

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The auction offered two First Charter Period Series 1875 nationals: a $20 note from Paris, Ill. (Fr. 431), called among the finest known in PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 that brought $25,850, and a Lazy Deuce $2 note from the La Crosse National Bank (Wisconsin) in PMG Choice Uncirculated 63 yielding $17,625. 

A Series 1934D double denomination $5/$10 error in PCGS Gem Uncirculated 65 sold for $25,850.

For historical interest, a selection of colonial currency eclipsed any of the above, none more so than three items from the workshop of Paul Revere. Foremost was a Massachusetts Bay Aug. 18, 1775, 6-shilling note (MA-163) once in the estate of F.C.C. Boyd and later John Ford. Known as the “Sword in Hand” note, its PCGS Choice New 63 Premium Paper Quality grade ties it for the finest known. It sold for $30,550.

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