Paper Money

Special notes signed by former treasurer in auction

High prices for U.S. small-size notes often depend as much on serial numbers as on rarity. With serial number 1 notes usually the most desirable of all, the bidding for one particular lot at the Heritage Currency Auctions sale at the American Numismatic Association convention in Anaheim, Calif., will attract even more than the usual attention. What Heritage calls “one of the best modern era currency items to surface in recent memory” is a presentation set of five notes, each with the identical serial number D00000001A and the hand-signed courtesy autographs of Treasury Secretary James A. Baker and Treasurer Katherine Davalos Ortega above their engraved signatures. The pair served together from 1985 to 1988.

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The $1, $5, $10, $20, and $50 notes from the Cleveland Federal Reserve district were framed and presented to Ortega by the government in appreciation of her 1983 to 1989 service as treasurer. Below the five notes is an engraved plaque reading “Secretary Baker — Treasurer Ortega, Federal Reserve Notes, Series 1985, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.”

The set is accompanied by three other items of historic and collectible interest:

One is a large plate with Treasurer Ortega’s signature engraved backwards that was the model used for her signature that appeared on billions of notes. It was presented to Ortega by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. 

The second is a framed $1 note from the Dallas bank with a plaque commemorating the printing of over 20 billion notes signed by Baker and Ortega. 

Finally, there is a framed picture of Treasurer Ortega with President Reagan personally inscribed to her by the president.

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