1861 Too much Work for the Clerks
2014 SOLD 410 K$ including premium
The Acts of Congress of July 17, 1861 and August 5, 1861 authorized the issuance of $ 250 million by the Treasury, including 60 million in bills of $ 20, 10 and 5 which will be exchangeable upon demand against coins. The new bill takes the name of Demand note.
The government is cautious: this Demand Note is the first federal bill that does not bear an interest. As such, it is the first modern ticket of the United States.
The Demand note must be signed by two officials. The huge amount of small bills requires to entrust this work to employees who do not sign in their name but by procuration, respectively "for the" Register of the Treasury and "for the" Treasury of the United States.
Employees are hand writing "for the" after their own signature. This process doubles the time spent on each piece and is not tolerable. It seems (but it is not proven) was they then contemplated to imitate the signature of the officials to remove "for the". It was easier to print "for the" and this solution was put in place less than a month after the start of the operation.
The Demand notes with handwritten "for the" are thus the very first modern federal notes of the United States, and they are extremely rare.
For the highest denomination of the Demand notes, $ 20, only one unit is known with the handwritten "for the". Graded Fine 15 by PMG, it is apparent Very Fine on almost every criteria except a professional reparation at one corner. It is estimated $ 600K, for sale by Heritage in Orlando on January 10. Here is the link to the catalog.
War is expensive. The government soon had to suspend the redeeming of coin on demand and stopped issuing Demand notes in April 1862 without removing them from circulation. The Legal tender notes that succeeded them maintained the new tradition of a green back.
POST SALE COMMENT
The extreme rarity was offset by the condition. This interesting note was sold for $ 410K including premium.
1862-1863 When the Treasury became a Banker
2013 SOLD 880 K$ including premium
The Civil War put the government itself in trouble and turns the Treasury to behave like a banker. In 1861, a federal bill is created as a Demand Note, indicating on the back the repayment terms (also known as the obligation) as the banks were doing.
It was not enough to overcome the crisis. As early as the following year, the federal government creates a note that can be used in a broader range of public and private transactions. This is the Legal Tender Note, which will be the most lasting success in the history of paper money.
The largest denomination is $ 1,000. The note bears the effigy of Senator Morris who had been in the previous century the treasurer of the War of Independence.
Three of these notes have survived, but only one has the original date of 10 March 1862. Marked also as New series, it was probably printed in 1863 before March 10, before the second edition of this denomination. This unique specimen was included in a hoard found in 1966 after 90 years hiding in a jar in a Missouri farm.
It is graded Fine 15 by PCGS, which is not so bad when considering its storage history. It was sold for $ 750K including premium by Lyn Knight in October 2005. It is estimated $ 800K, for sale by Stack's Bowers in Chicago on August 15.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good price for this unique piece in fine condition : $ 880K including premium.
1863 A Piece of Paper for a Big Debt
2018 SOLD for $ 960K including premium
The obligation printed on the note stipulates this liberalized use : This note is a legal tender for all debts public and private except duties on imports and interest on the public debt. A variant of an additional clause is early modified and the very first copies are easily identified.
The highest denomination of the Demand Note was $ 20. For the Legal Tender Note it was $ 1,000, a very high amount mostly intended for bank-to-bank operations.
This $ 1000 Legal Tender is referred as Fr-186* in the Friedberg nomenclature. No example survives with the first obligation of February 1862 (Fr-186 and Fr-186a). The earliest known item is a unique Fr-186c bearing the printed date of March 10, 1862. Graded Fine 15 by PCGS, it was sold for $ 880K including premium by Stack's Bowers on August 15, 2013.
The Fr-186d was the first variant with the printed date modified to March 10, 1863 and referring to the act of March 3, 1863. Three notes survive. The only one in private hands has certainly never been used and retains its original embossing. Graded Choice About New 58 by PCGS, it is estimated $ 800K in the first sale of the Joel R. Anderson collection by Stack's Bowers in Baltimore on March 22, lot 1018.
1864 The Interest of the Civil War
2015 SOLD for $ 350K including premium
The Act of 30 June 1864 launches the $ 500 notes with an interest of 10 cents per day through six removable semi-annual coupons, meaning the payment of an interest of 3.65% from the value of the notes every six months along three years. The note itself will be redeemed in bonds or any other means of payment decided by the government within twenty years after the expiration of the last coupon.
Investors were eager to change their notes to get their money back. The surviving specimens of Interest Bearing Notes from the time of the civil war are extremely rare, especially in the high denominations.
The very existence of a note of $ 500 following that act was questioned until a century later when one of them surfaced. It is dated August 15, 1864. Its coupons had been used but the bill itself has not been pin holed or cancelled.
Its condition is graded Very Fine 25 by PMG. It suffered some reworks, probably to remove small stains, and its ink is lightened at the place where the identification of the original bearer was washed. This piece unique of its kind is estimated in excess of $ 300K for sale by Stack's Bowers in Baltimore on November 5, lot 30256.
1866 How the Government promoted its Gold
2013 SOLD 2.1 M$ including premium
The act of Congress of March 3, 1863 authorized the issue of Gold certificates redeemable only at the Treasury against gold coins of the designated amount. Six denominations are allowed: $ 20, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10000.
The equivalence between metal and paper would be a good idea if the price of the raw metal was immutable. After a relatively short time during which the success of the operation can be considerable, a party is aggrieved: either the government or the speculators. The papers are reimbursed and disappear.
Very few units of the first issue of the top five denominations have survived. None $ 500 and $ 10,000. The only known copy in $ 1000 and $ 5000, and two of the three known in $ 100 are in the collections of the Smithsonian.
The interest of collectors at the only "1863" $ 100 certificate in private hands is obvious, especially since it is graded PCGS Apparent Extremely Fine 40. It is dated December 13, 1866.
It was privately sold through Heritage in June 2006 along with the Grand Watermelon Fr.379c, to the same collector and at the same price, $ 2.1 M. Both are now listed in the same auction sale, again by Heritage, on April 26 in Schaumburg IL.
This Grand Watermelon has been previous discussed in this column. The Gold certificate is estimated $ 1.5 M. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This note both exceptional and historically significant was sold for $ 2.1 million including premium.
1878 Large Denominations
2012 SOLD 276 K$ including premium
The four large denominations were $ 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000, with an additional 100,000 quoted for being complete although it was issued only in one occasion for internal purposes. Of course, these notes were illustrated with the portraits of famous Americans.
Some issues have become very rare, and fans are looking for the best condition of each model, as it is the practice with all collections of multiples.
On August 8 in Philadelphia, Stack's Bowers sells two rarities.
The 1878 $ 500 Legal Tender note is honoring Major General Joseph King Mansfield, the hero of the Battle of Antietam. Graded PCGS Extremely Fine 40 Apparent, it is estimated $ 300K. It is illustrated on the page shared by Numismaster. Another very nice example printed in 1874 on the same design was sold $ 520K including premium by Heritage in January 2007.
The 1880 $ 1000 Legal Tender note is honoring DeWitt Clinton, a former mayor of New York. This unit graded PCGS Very Fine 35 is estimated $ 225K. Another example of the same year ranking Extra Fine-40 was sold $ 320K including premium by Lyn Knight on June 10, 2011.
POST SALE COMMENTS
I was right in grouping these two lots into one discussion: they have reached very similar prices.
$ 276K including premium for the 1878 $ 500 and $ 253K including premium for the 1880 $ 1000.
1883-1885 The Revenge of Silver
2005 SOLD for $ 670K including premium by Lyn Knight
The Congress Act of 1873 puts an end to the silver dollar and makes bimetallism out of date. Previously the exchange rate between gold and silver was fixed immutably by law. The abundance and popularity of gold after the Californian Rush made this balance unmanageable.
To respond to the concern and reprobation of the producers and speculators of silver, a new Act requires in 1878 that the Treasury buys between $ 2 million and 4 million silver bullion per month. These purchases are paid by a new paper currency, the Silver Certificate of Deposit, immediately issued in six denominations of $ 10 to $ 1000 and known with the descriptive nickname of Black back.
A new series was issued in 1880 with minor modifications including the color of the seal. At the beginning of the same year the counter signing by the receiver of the deposit is abandoned.
The surviving copies of the highest denominations are extremely rare. Joel R. Anderson has achieved the feat of gathering a complete collection of the six denominations of the 1880 series. These silver certificates will be sold in separate lots by Stack's Bowers in Philadelphia on August 16.
The Friedberg nomenclature takes into account the combinations of the printed signatures of the Register of the Treasury and of the Treasurer of the United States. The Friedberg census records for the $ 500 certificate one countersigned 1878 and seven of the 1880 series divided between the Bruce-Gilfilan signatures in force from 1881 to 1883 and the Bruce-Wyman applied from 1883 to 1885.
The $ 500 certificate of the next sale is estimated $ 700K, lot 2039. This Bruce-Gilfilan (Friedberg 345c) is graded Very Fine 20 by PCGS. It was sold for $ 480K including premium by Lyn Knight in October 2005. It is one of the three remaining in private hands : two 345c and one 345d Bruce-Wyman.
Friedberg records for the $ 1000 certificate five copies of the 1880 series, all of them in the Bruce-Wyman configuration. The $ 1000 certificate of the next sale is estimated $ 800K, lot 2041. This Bruce-Wyman (Friedberg 346d) is graded Very Fine 25 by PCGS. It was sold for $ 670K including premium by Lyn Knight in October 2005. It is one of the two remaining in private hands. No $ 1000 from the 1878 series has survived.
This 1880 $1,000 Black Back Certificate of Deposit is One of Two in private hands, with this VF25 example being the finest known. @StacksBowers will be selling this banknote in one month, and we are excited to see it reach or exceed their estimates!— PCGS Currency (@PCGSCurrency) July 12, 2018
#auction #money #pcgscurrency pic.twitter.com/zAoj5QqVbZ
1887-1889 Gold to the Bearer
2014 SOLD 1.4 M$ including premium
The process changes in 1882, when these notes are no longer individual but become payable to the bearer.
American people are pragmatic. The paper currency of the nineteenth century was not hoarded. The scarcity of Gold certificates increased further in 1933 during the great offensive by Roosevelt to revive the economy, when their possession became illegal as for gold coins and bullion.
The emission of 1882 included a wide range of monetary values. The $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 are known only in two copies each, according to the Friedberg guide. The classification of this author includes eight variants in a single type for the $ 1,000 certificate and seven variants divided into two types for the $ 500. The price depends on the rarity of the variant and on the condition.
In June, Heritage announced the discovery of a treasure which looks like a dream to any collector of US currency, in an old box long forgotten by its owners : four 1882 gold certificates, in very fine condition later confirmed VF 35 by PCGS.
These four notes are for sale by Heritage in Orlando on January 10. Here is the link to the press release.
The rarest is the $ 500 (Friedberg reference Fr 1215d), the only known copy of this variant apart from a specimen kept at the Smithsonian. It is estimated $ 2M. The other three are $ 1000 in variants Fr 1218d , 1218e and 1218f , respectively estimated $ 1M, $ 1M and $ 300K.
From another provenance, the same sale also offers a 1882 $ 100 gold certificate in the highly rare variant Fr 1202a, in VF 35 condition, estimated $ 700K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The hoard of four gold certificates fetched $ 3.45 million including premium, divided into $ 1.4 million for the $ 500 denomination and $ 880K, 880K and 294K for the $ 1,000 denomination.
Their emission dates are as follows :
$ 500, Fr. 1215d with Rosecrans-Hyatt signatures : 1887-1889
$ 1000, Fr. 1218d with Rosecrans-Huston signatures : 1889-1891
$ 1000, Fr. 1218e with Rosecrans-Nebeker signatures : 1891-1893
$ 1000, Fr. 1218f with Lyons-Roberts signatures : 1898-1905
The $ 100 certificate also discussed above was sold for $ 820K including premium.
1890 The Silver Inflation
2014 SOLD 3.3 M$ including premium
In 1890, faced with a glut of silver, the U.S. government had also to address the parity between silver and gold. The decision is known as the Sherman Silver Purchase Act against the wishes of Senator Sherman, the best federal financial official of his time, who was not supporting this operation.
The government buys silver in huge quantities, and pays with a new type of bill named the Treasury Note which can be be repaid either in gold coins or in silver coins. They naively believed that this provision of liquidity would encourage consumerism. The opposite effect, however, was immediate. Due to lack of confidence in maintaining the value of the federal silver, holders of Treasury Notes rushed to gold.
In 1893, fearing a financial disaster, the Sherman Act is repealed. The Treasury Notes are redeemed. The big denominations were obviously too expensive to be kept in collections.
The $ 1000 Treasury notes became the rarest units of federal money. The Friedberg guide assigns them with the reference Fr.379, divided in two 1890 variants Fr.379a and b, and one variant Fr.379c of the following year. The alignment of the three opulent oval 0 has provided to this design the nickname Grand Watermelon.
The two rarest notes entered together in 2006 in the Greensboro collection by a private transaction organized by Heritage. Each of them is unique in private hands in its variant.
The 379c, graded Extremely Fine 45 by PCGS, was sold for $ 2.6 million including premium by Heritage on 26 April 2013.
The 379b, dating from the very year of the Sherman Act, is the most prestigious although in a slightly lower state graded Extremely Fine 40 by PCGS. It is estimated in excess of $ 2M for sale by Heritage in Orlando on January 10. Here is the link to the catalog.
Two 379a are in private hands. One of them, graded Apparent Extremely Fine 45 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.53 million by Heritage on April 26, 2013. The other unit was sold for $ 1.1 million including premium in October 2005 by Lyn Knight, becoming the first note to break the million dollars at auction.
POST SALE COMMENT
This specimen of Grand Watermelon is the undisputed star of US paper currency. It was sold for $ 3.3 million including premium.
1891 The Watermelon Rush
2013 SOLD 2.6 M$ including premium
The U.S. government is powerful. In 1878, an act of Congress guarantees a minimum monthly purchase of silver by the government at the highest rate of the market. Speculators are becoming more pressing. On 14 July 1890, another act decides the edition of Treasury notes, a new variety of paper currency redeemable only against silver coins or gold coins.
The $ 1000 Treasury note is identified as reference Fr.379 in the catalog of Friedberg, with three sub-variants. For the collector and the curious, it is known as the Grand Watermelon in relationship, not indeed with a juicy quality, but with the look of the three green ovals that make the 0 in the 1000 figure.
Not only the three variants are extremely rare, but the system itself was of very short duration. The Treasury note was declared uneconomic by the government in 1893 because of its success that depleted too quickly the Federal reserve of coins.
A 1890 Treasury note of the first type Fr.379a is estimated $ 1.25 million, for sale by Heritage in Schaumburg (Chicago) IL on April 26. It is graded PCGS Apparent Extremely Fine 45, 'apparent' meaning that a rework invisible to the naked eye has been made. It is one of only two in private hands from five remaining units. Here is the link to the catalog.
In December 2006, Heritage operated a private sale of a note from the second 1890 variant Fr.379b for $ 2.255 M. Graded VF 35, it is the only one in private hands from two known units.
In 1891, the variant Fr.379c includes some small changes to combat counterfeiting. In the same next sale on April 26, one of them is estimated $ 2M. This is the only privately owned from two known units. It is graded PCGS Extremely Fine 45, with a very slight evidence of circulation. Here is the link to the catalog.
Additional Information: In June 2006, the Fr.379c discussed above, for sale on April 26, was sold for $ 2.1 million in a private transaction operated by Heritage.
POST SALE COMMENT
Outstanding success for these two extremely rare pieces: $ 1.53 million including premium for the 1890 note and $ 2.6 million including premium for the 1891 note.
1896 The Proof Sheets of the Educational Series
2011 SOLD 1.26 M$ including premium
On August 17, 2011, Stack's Bowers sold for $ 1.26 million including premium one of the most unusual sets of US bank notes. I had commented before the sale: Prestigious issue, full set, first copies, uncut, not circulated. All the qualities are in place for expecting $ 1M on this lot.
Here is the rest of my article of 2011:
The series of Silver Certificates of 1896, known as the Educational Series, is often considered as the most artistic engraving in the history of American paper money. It was issued in three denominations, $ 1, 2 and 5, by the Treasury.
On the observe, the $ 1 note shows History educating a youth at Washington DC. The $ 2 is devoted to Science: Electricity and Steam are two children looked favorably by the elder figures of Commerce and Manufacture. For $ 5, America dominates the World with the help of Electricity. The back is devoted to portraits of famous American people, two for each value.
The head of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving received an authorization from his administration to keep the first sheet of each of the three values, each sheet including the serial numbers 1 to 4 of these editions. He did not cut them, and had them bound along with a short explanatory typewritten text in a thin book of tall folio size, 20 x 34 cm.
After 2011, this volume has been reworked. The sheets of bank notes have been professionally removed from the book and analyzed by PMG (Paper Money Guaranty) which graded them AU55 (About uncirculated).
The complete set is coming back to auction in one lot estimated $ 1.5 million for sale in Chicago on August 7, again by Stack's Bowers. It is illustrated in the release shared by CoinWeek.
POST 2014 SALE COMMENT
Unsold. It was not a good idea to break up the document and increase the price.
1898-1905 The Register and the Treasurer
2014 SOLD for $ 294K including premium by Heritage
2017 SOLD for $ 270K including premium
In the United States the first modern paper currency is the Demand note issued in 1861 to finance the war effort. From that date all federal notes bear the signature of the Register of the Treasury, a position created in that year, and of the Treasurer of the United States. In practice these signatures are marked on the bills by a team of employees.
Some types of notes remained unchanged for several decades. The conjunction of the two signatures makes it possible to identify the period of emission. The Friedberg (Fr.) classification records for each type the sub-variants defined by the signatures. The serial number can provide information on the chronology of the printing but is of a lesser appeal to the specialists.
The Bills of Exchange Act 1882 transforms the Gold certificates into notes payable to the bearer. They are withdrawn from circulation and prohibited after the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. Owners hurry to exchange these notes while there is still time and the surviving examples of large denominations become highly rare.
On June 14, 2013 in Memphis during the International Paper Money Show, Heritage Auctions revealed a treasure discovered in an old box by an owner who was unaware of its value : four gold certificates of 1882 type in $ 500 and $ 1000 in very fine condition :
$ 500, Fr. 1215d Rosecrans-Hyatt (1887-1889) No. C13680
$ 1000, Fr. 1218d Rosecrans-Huston (1889-1891) No. C23668
$ 1000, Fr. 1218e Rosecrans-Nebeker (1891-1893) No. C26834
$ 1000, Fr. 1218f Lyons-Roberts (1898-1905) No. C65825
After being graded VF35 or Apparent VF35 by PCGS, the four tickets were sold by Heritage on January 14, 2014. The results including premium were : $ 1.4M (1215d), $ 880K (1218d), $ 880K (1218e) and $ 294K (1218f).
With a population of ten later increased to eleven, the 1218f was the least rare of the four pieces of the treasure. This note graded VF35 is however the finest known Fr. 1218f. It is estimated $ 300K for sale by Heritage in Denver on August 3, lot 20078.