Paper Money

AIA auction offers essay proofs, Mormon note

A broad array of United States, Chinese and worldwide bank notes, stock and bond certificates and security printing ephemera are among the 1,040 lots in the public auction being conducted by Archives International Auctions in Fort Lee, New Jersey, on Nov. 21.

The highest opening price in the sale, at $6,000, belongs to a pair of “Educational” Series 1895 and 1896 $5 silver certificate uniface essay progress proofs on India paper once in the collection of Harry W. Bass Jr. The black face vignette of the first piece is the famous Electricity Presenting Light to the World, but the date reads Series of 1895 instead of 1896 as on the issued note. The catalog describes it as appearing complete but with parts not fully engraved, and with some of the finer design details, especially on the border, still missing. PCGS Currency graded it Choice About Uncirculated 55, noting “Minor Mounting Remnants” on the back. 

The second piece is a back proof of a Series 1896 $5 silver certificate. It is green with the portraits of Grant and Sheridan on the left and right as on the issued note. 

It is graded Very Choice Uncirculated 64 by PCGS Currency. 

AIA estimates the lot containing the proofs to settle at $10,000 to $15,000. 

Among the offerings bound to attract strong interest is a note issued by the Joseph Smith-led Mormon community of Kirtland, Ohio. The Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Bank-ing Co. $1 note of Jan. 4, 1837, is from the first issue of notes from this bank. The reason it was issued with the “Anti-Bank-ing” name is because the bank’s application for a charter from the state banking regulators was rejected. Since the notes were already printed and the bank was ready to open, its officials, Smith among them, decided to open and issue the notes anyway, by cleverly using small rubber stamps to add the words “Anti” before “Bank” and “ing Co.” after it. Stamps also covered the titles of cashier and president. 

Within months, the bank refused to redeem the notes for coin, causing their value to plummet. Smith terminated his association with the bank soon after, and it would fail in November 1837, as did many other banks in the Panic of 1837

The note is graded Very Fine 20 by Paper Money Guaranty and is offered with an estimate of $3,000 to $5,000.

The catalog can be found here.

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