Paper Money

‘Watermelon, rainbows’ in Philadelphia

The focus for paper money collectors is fully turned to Philadelphia for the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money Aug. 7 to 11. 
Stack’s Bowers Galleries will conduct the official auction for the convention. The highlight of the more than 900-lot paper money section will be the “Watermelon Collection of Large-Size Type Notes.” The collection encompasses nearly all areas of large-size notes, and equally important, consists of notes that have not been on the market in recent memory.
The collection gets its name from one of its highlights, the famous Series 1890 $100 Treasury note, Friedberg 377 (Paper Money of the United States by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg). The name comes from the shapes of the zeros on the back, which resemble watermelons.
Even though it is graded a relatively low Fine 15 by PCGS Currency, this lot is certain to attract considerable attention. Not much more than two dozen of these notes are available to the market and a Very Fine example sold earlier this year for $161,000. According to the auctioneer, this note and other lots are from an old-time collection, formed decades ago. While we do not know the acquisition price for this $100 note, it is multiple times less than what the piece will sell for, and a sound argument in favor of the long-term view of paper money collecting.
Among other noteworthy offerings, a complete run of Series 1869 $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50 United States notes will be offered. They bear the nickname “Rainbow Notes” because of the vivid colors of ink used.
Also included in the lots is the first type note to depict an American eagle, the Series 1863 $100 legal tender note (F-167a). The note, which is graded by PCGS Currency as VF-25 Apparent, Minor Restorations, is estimated to reach from $40,000 to $60,000.
Perhaps the finest known (PCGS Currency Very Choice New 64) Series 1891 $50 silver certificate (F-335) has an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.
Also from Series 1891, a $100 silver certificate (F-343), graded VF-30 Apparent, Minor Restorations by PCGS Currency, ranks among the finest known. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.
A rare Series 1875 $100 First Charter national bank note (F-463) will be offered. This note, from the Citizen’s National Bank of Zanesville (Ohio), is graded PCGS Currency VF-30 Premium Paper Quality and is one of just four known. 
Although $500 and $1,000 First Charter national bank notes were printed, this is the highest collectible denomination, and the Zanesville note should reach the mid-five-figures.
Rarer than the “Watermelon Note” is one of just nine known Series 1882 $1,000 gold certificates (F-1218f) to be offered. Even in PCGS Very Fine 20 Apparent, Small Edge Tears, Pinholes, a six-figure price is not out of the question.
While the large-size notes are the stars of the show, much more is offered, especially in an area that is showing increasing interest. 
Collectors will be able to bid on 50 postage envelopes, a form of Civil War emergency currency. Additionally, 51 lots of their currency “cousins,” encased postage stamps, will be offered. The auction will also offer more than 100 examples of some rare (and currently very popular) obsolete currency. 

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