Paper Money

Watermelons and Rainbows lead Heritage Currency Sale

A pair of iconic large-size notes long off the market will be in the spotlight at the Heritage Currency Signature auction held in conjunction with the April 27 to May 2 Central States Numismatic Society Convention in Schaumburg, Ill. An Internet-only sale will follow.

Making its first appearance on the market since 1983 and certain to attract the top price is a rare “Rainbow” $50 1869 United States note, Friedberg 151, graded About Uncirculated 55 by Paper Money Guaranty that is expected to bring in $175,000 or more. Only 64 examples of this note are known, of which just four are certified in a higher grade. The last time a Rainbow note of similar quality to this sold was in January 2013 when Heritage Auctions sold a PCGS Currency graded About Uncirculated 58 example for $176,250 including the buyer’s fee.

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It is rare that the sale of a “Watermelon Note” ever plays second fiddle, but the F-377 $100 Treasury note in PMG Very Fine 25 Net, Restored, does just that with an estimate of “only” $150,000. When this particular note was last sold at the Memphis, Tenn., paper money show in 1996 it realized $13,200 in a grade of Fine. The last sale of a Fine condition Watermelon note was in 2012 for $77,625, while two Very Fine notes have sold since then, the most recent a VF-30 example that realized $199,750 last April.

The second appearance at auction in a month of a $20 compound-interest Treasury note (F-191a), graded by PCGS Currency as Very Fine 30 Apparent with restorations, gives the impression that these are coming out of the woodwork. That is a coincidence — only 59 are known, in all grades. This one is estimated in the high $20,000 range, and since only a handful are graded higher it may be awhile before another appears.

Also fairly certain to surpass $100,000 are two Series 1934 $5,000 notes including one of only five known from St. Louis (F-2221-H) in PMG Extremely Fine 45 and from Dallas (F-2221-K) in PMG Choice Uncirculated 64.

Among the 1,117 national bank note offerings in the Heritage auction are 1902 Red Seal notes from Murray, Utah; Scotland, S.D.; and the United States National Bank of Salem, Ore. The latter is called a “Forbidden Title” because after 1926 it was illegal to use “United States” in national bank titles.

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