Paper Money

Series 1863 ‘Spread eagle’ $100 note tops Lyn Knight's U.S.

Series 1863 $100 legal tender note graded Choice New 63 by PCGS Currency was sold for $305,500 during the June 19 sale by Lyn Knight Currency Auctions in Memphis, Tenn.

All images courtesy of Lyn Knight Currency Auctions.

Among the high-powered offerings in the auction of large-size type notes by Lyn Knight Currency Auctions at the International Paper Money Show in Memphis, Tenn., June 19, an American classic stole the limelight. Known colloquially as the “Spread Eagle” note for the large vignette of an eagle with outspread wings on the face, the Series 1863 $100 legal tender note (Friedberg 167a) graded Choice New 63 by PCGS Currency was sold for $260,000 plus the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee, bringing it to $305,500, equaling the highest price ever for a note in this condition.

Bidding was spirited. It started at $180,000 and the note was finally knocked down to a floor bidder after much back and forth. 

The last time a Spread Eagle note sold was in November 2014 when Knight sold a PCGS Very Fine 20 example for $103,500. The only other sale in the last two years was by Heritage Auctions in January 2013. That example was also graded PCGS Currency Choice New 63 and it coincidentally also brought a total of $305,500.

The Spread Eagle type encompasses notes of six different Friedberg numbers, and of these, with only 22 examples recorded, the F-167a note is the most common and the only one with any Uncirculated examples recorded — one in Gem New 65, two in Choice New 63, and one in Uncirculated 60 that has not been seen publicly since 1992.

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