BY PATRICK IAN PEREZ, EDITOR
The primary market activity during the past 30 days was the Long Beach Expo and the associated auction conducted by Heritage. Unsurprisingly, the sale topper was one of the famous Series 1934 $10,000 Federal Reserve Notes from the Binion Hoard. This PCGS CU64 example brought home $144,000, a consistent result for this sought-after note. Interestingly, the remainder of the top five lots were two pairs of the same type. Two “Lazy Deuce” National banknotes: one from Utah and one from Wisconsin, sold for $60,000 and $36,000, respectively. Sandwiched between those were two Series 1905 “Technicolor” $20 Gold Certificates, with a PMG CU66 EPQ selling for $50,400 and a PMG CU64 Net selling for $48,000. Overall the U.S. sessions totaled $5.5 million and the world currency sessions brought more than $1.5 million.
The sheer size of the auction provided a significant amount of price movement in most series. While, at first glance, one might observe that most of the movement is in the downward direction, there are circumstances that need clarification. First, a large amount of currency sold the prior month with the ANA auctions, the market struggled to absorb another 4,500 lots just under 30 days later. While the U.S. currency market is not small, it does not have the same collector or financial depth as the rare coin market. Dealers and collectors who may have filled their needs or stock in August had less available cash to bid in September. Also, when multiples of the same note are offered in the same sale—especially in the same grade—it puts pressure on the type. Thus, the paper money market is not necessarily “falling” or “down” as people tend to claim when they see minus signs, but rather highlights areas that have softened recently, and likely, temporarily. For now we’re seeing weakness in the high uncirculated grades, CU66 and CU67, a sign that collectors may be focusing on absolute rarity as opposed to condition rarity. The spread between notes that bear the “EPQ/PPQ” designations and ones that do not also appears to be growing.
Of course, there were areas that performed quite well in this sale. The early $1 and $2 Legal Tenders of Series 1874 and 1875 continue to bring very strong prices, as their rarity becomes better understood. Some niche areas also showed quite well. The Heritage sale boasted a nice selection of large size replacement notes and they drew considerable bidder interest. There was also a substantial number of error notes offered. Some sold for strong prices, including double-denomination errors and inverted backs.
NEW THIS MONTH
We have a few new additions to the prices listing this month. The scarce Series 1900 $10,000 Gold Certificate, Fr.-1225h is now priced. This is the only somewhat-available signature/seal combination of the type which have the famous story of being thrown from the windows of a burning building in 1935. We have also added a couple additional scarcer Fr. numbers in the Fractional Currency listings. Lastly, we have separated the listings for the Series 1934D $10 Silver Certificate star notes into the Wide and Narrow varieties because of the disparity in rarity between the two.
NOTE IN FOCUS: NC-34 NORTH CAROLINA 1729 5 POUNDS
The seemingly endless holdings of Eric P. Newman continue to reveal not only rare but extraordinarily historic pieces of early American currency. This should come as no surprise as he is the author of the seminal work on the subject. The upcoming Part VIII auction sale of the Newman Collection contains this unique early North Carolina piece with many interesting features. Dated November 27th, 1729, it is a fully handwritten note on laid paper with both paper and wax seals. As the Heritage catalog states, there were no printing presses in the colony of North Carolina at this time, thus the need to hand write bills. It would not be until 1755 that the colony had an official printer. 1729 is significant as this was the year North Carolina became a Crown Colony. There is an endorsement on the back stating that the note changed hands in March of 1730, in an area of northeast North Carolina near the Virginia border. Even more amazing is the condition, with the note grading PCGS XF40, with only a well-executed center split and some minor staining the netting defects. The delicate red wax seal is very well preserved. Being cognizant of the amount and evolution of commerce and currency from the time this note was created to today makes one wonder if the issuers of this note could have possibly envisioned how important it has become.