Auction activity for March was brisk and kicked off with the Lyn Knight sale held in conjunction with the Professional Currency Dealers Association National Convention. This convention, held in November in past years, was moved to March for the first time this year. The Lyn Knight sale topper was a small-size “R” experimental silver certificate replacement note, graded PMG CU66 EPQ, the finest known, which hammered for $25,300. Incidentally, this is one of the notes we have added to our price listings this month (see below for more.) This lot was followed by a small-size $10 national note on the First National Bank of Flagstaff, Arizona in Very Fine condition at $17,250. A rarely seen error crossed the block as well: a series 1981A $1 FRN from San Francisco featuring an obstructed print with retained fragment brought in $10,350, surpassing its high estimate. Performance was tempered a bit in the world currency session while a handful of lots with the biggest estimates failed to sell.
The following week saw the Kagin’s ANA auction in Orlando which performed admirably, with many of the top lots exceeding their initial estimates. One of the notes we featured in last month’s article-the PMG CU69 EPQ $10 legal tender-was the sale’s topper, selling for $114,563, including buyer’s premium. The eleven-note set of all signature combinations of the 1899 $5 Indian Chief brought $99,875. Selling for the same price was one of the famous Binion Hoard $10,000 Federal Reserve note, this one graded PCGS CU63 Apparent. Other highlights included a PMG CU66 EPQ series 1886 silver certificate Fr.-263 at $27,025, a series 1891 $10 silver certificate graded PMG CU66 EPQ for $21, 150 and a series 1923 $10 Poker Chip note in a PMG CU66 EPQ holder for $19,975.
The very end of March and the first day of April had the Whitman Baltimore Expo, with the majority of the country’s major currency dealers in attendance. Stacks Bowers will hold a U.S. currency auction, and as usual it is a varied offering with opportunities across all genres. A nice selection of obsolete proofs, a very nice run of the many varieties of the $5 “Woodchopper” legal tender, and large grouping of early $100, $500, and $1,000 small-size Federal Reserve notes.
EXPANDED COVERAGE CONTINUES
We have continued to add to our expanded pricing coverage this month. Starting with small-size silver certificates, we have added pricing for replacement notes of the $5 denomination notes, along with the “R & S” experimental notes. The next area of expansion is Fractional currency. We have individually priced every Friedberg number of the first and fifth issues, along with selected other better notes. In the coming months many of the individual notes in this series will be priced. The third issue in particular contains many better varieties, and pricing them individually will help easily identify them. Additional pricing readers can look forward to in the coming months include: small-size legal tender replacement notes, World War II replacement notes, and an expanded colonial currency section. If there are other areas of Federally-issued currency that readers would like to see pricing on please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE IN FOCUS: FR. 181 SERIES 1880 $100 LEGAL TENDER
It is well known that virtually all high denomination large size notes are scarce ($100 face value and higher), and they are the types most often missing from collections. The simple reality of these notes’ contemporary purchasing power prevented all but the wealthiest from saving them for collecting purposes. For perspective-and because such exercises are fun-$100 in 1898 equates to about $2,950 in today’s dollars. The average daily wage for a manufacturing job in America at the time was $1.66, with this note representing two months’ worth of wages. This note’s obverse shows a stoic portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the left with an allegorical representation of Architecture on the right, chosen perhaps to emphasize the immense rebuilding facing the nation post-Civil War when this type was first issued in 1869. The Series 1880 was issued with nine different signature combinations although one, the Napier-McClung combo, is unknown. Freidberg-181 is the Lyons-Roberts combination. Based on each official’s terms of service, this note would have been issued between April of 1898 until June of 1905. Ellis H. Roberts from upstate New York, was the 20th Treasurer of the United States. Judson W. Lyons was the 10th Register of the Treasury (an office that no longer exists) and is one of four African-Americans whose signatures are found on U.S. currency. There are just 46 serial numbers recorded of this number, although a relatively small percentage of them have been third-party certified thus far. The finest known in a PCGS graded AU50 PPQ which last sold in October of 2012 for $32,900. An example of this note, graded PMG VF-30 Net is offered by Stacks Bowers in their Baltimore auction as lot #10233.
BY PATRICK IAN PEREZ, EDITOR