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Three Notes Top the Million Mark
By Bank Note Reporter
May 20, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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The stars were out in force at Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night currency auction, April 26, during the Central States Numismatic Society convention in Schaumburg, Ill. These stars were three major rarities that sold for a total of $6,227,500 for notes with a combined face value of $2,100. The prices include the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee, and the overall sale total was $15,744,093.

Topping all lots in a sale that made anything below $1 million look common, was an 1891 $1,000 Treasury Note, Fr. 379c, cataloged as “unique in collector hands.” The note, which bears the same face design (Gen. Meade) as the famed “Grand Watermelon” note, is one of only two examples of this design type known to exist. The PCGS Extremely Fine 45 PPQ specimen went for $2,585,000.

The note, which first appeared in the 1944 Barney Bluestone sale of the Grinnell Collection, carries an impressive pedigree, having gone from Robert Friedberg to Amon Carter, Jr. to Jim Thompson to Dean Oakes to Dr. Edward and Joanne Dauer before finally ending up in the Greensboro Collection offered at Central States.

Bringing $2,115,000 was an 1863 $100 Gold Certificate, again “unique in private hands.” It was an Fr. 1166c in PCGS Apparent Extremely Fine 40. Three examples are known, with two of those housed in the Smithsonian.

“The original source of the currently offered note is lost to history,” the cataloger said. “It resided with a well known Midwest dealer for many decades and was then privately placed into the collection of Dr. Edward & Joanne Dauer, the only collectors to ever form a complete collection of all known U.S. type notes. It was then sold privately to the owner of the Greensboro Collection in 2006. This is the first auction appearance not only of this particular note, but of this design type.”

The closing of a small edge tear, the cataloger said, accounted for the Apparent grade.

Winning bidder on the top two notes was paper money dealer Steve Perakis of Lima, Pa. He represented an anonymous buyer.

“The customer wants to keep a low profile,” Perakis said. He called the buyer “a very serious, very dedicated collector.”

The notes “are going to be put away for a long time. He is very happy with the purchases. He is in it for the long haul.”

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The last of the million-plus trio was an 1890 $1,000 “Grand Watermelon” Treasury Note, Fr. 379a, which sold for $1,527,500 in PCGS Apparent Extremely Fine 45.

“There are a total of five examples known of this Rosecrans-Huston signed Large Brown Seal 1890 Treasury ‘Grand Watermelon’ $1000,” according to the catalog listing. “Three of the five known are in government hands, one in the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution and two in the collections of Federal Reserve banks—one in Chicago and the other in San Francisco.”

This example carries the lowest serial number of the five known and “is one of two available to collectors.” It made its first public appearance in the Harmer-Rooke’s 1969 Million Dollar sale, “it then reappeared in 1983 in the H.I.M. sale at the Memphis show. Since then it had been in an east coast private collection until it was sold privately into the Greensboro Collection.”

The note carried an Apparent grade due to “some expertly executed restorations of the top margin area and a scattering of virtually undetectable closed pinholes.” The Grand Watermelon name comes from the resemblance of the three large zeros on the back to watermelons. The 1890 $100 Treasury Note has two of these zeros and has always been referred to as the “Watermelon” note.

A former highlight of the Tom Flynn collection, an original $50 National Gold Bank Note, Fr. 1160, charter 1741, went for $340,750 in a PCGS Apparent Very Fine 35 holder and was listed as the best of five extant. Flynn acquired it from Amon Carter, Jr.

An Fr. 360 $5 1890 Treasury Note, PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ, brought $282,000. Just 14 specimens are known in any grade with this being the only known uncirculated example.

Selling for $176,250 was a 1928 Boston District $5,000, Fr. 2220-A, Federal Reserve Note in PCGS Choice About New 58 PPQ. “This piece comes from a short run of Boston district 1928 $5000s discovered almost twenty years ago.”

Let go for $164,500 was another $5,000, a 1934 Richmond Federal Reserve Note, Fr. 2221-E, in PMG Choice Uncirculated 64, while a 1934 Dallas $5,000 Federal Reserve Note, Fr. 2221-K, in PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 went for $129,250.

At $117,500 was the finest known small-size $500 Gold Certificate, in PMG Gem Uncirculated 66 EPQ.

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