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Obsolete bank note proof book tops Heritage auction

A leather-bound book containing proof sheets of rare obsoletes that once belonging to noted 19th-century bank note engraver James Smillie realized $64,625 in Heritage’s Long Beach Expo Currency Signature Auction, Sept. 3-8 in Long Beach, Calif. Prices include the 17.5 percent buyer’s premium.

Cover to the Smillie proof banknote collection book.

Cover to the Smillie proof banknote collection book.

Titled “Specimens of Bank Note Engraving by Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co,” the book contains more than 75 pages and “at one time, it was full of uncut sheets of obsolete proof notes.” According to the lot description, ghost images of many of the notes can still be seen, but for some reason Smillie repurposed parts of the book “to mount die proof vignettes and miscellaneous prints that were of interest to him (some fifty pages). Fortunately for collectors, and for reasons whichhave been lost to time, seven proof sheets remain along with two pages of world proof notes.”

Among the sheets of obsolete proof notes were issues from the Quinnipiack Bank of New Haven, Conn.; the Marine Bank of Providence, R.I., the Marine Bank of Milwaukee Wis.; the Bank of Caledonia, Danville, Vt.; the City Bank of Montreal, Canada; the Wyebosset Bank of Providente, R.I.; and Hudson City Bank of Hudson, Wis.

Other books from the Smillie Family Archives were also auctioned including Lot 18434, “James Smillie Scrapbook of Examples of His Work,” which went for $30,550; Lot 18435, “Scrapbook of City Views, Landscapes and Portraits,” which brought $19,975; Lot 18436, “James D. Smillie’s 1857 Scrapbook” for 19,975”; and Lot 18438, “James Smillie Scrapbook of Engravings” at $12,925.

Other top selling lots in the Heritage Long Beach auction were three 1929 Type 1 No. 1 uncut sheets saved by the bank at time of issue on the County First National Bank of Santa Cruz, Calif., charter 9745. Included were a $10 sheet in PCGS About New 50 at $22,325, a $20 sheet in PCGS About New 53 for $23,500, and a $5 sheet in PCGS About New 50 at $19,975.

Also from California, a 1902 Plain Back $5 from the First National Bank of Sierra Madre, Calif., charter (P)8707, Fr. 600, and the second note recorded, in PCGS VF 25, sold for $35,250.

This Plain Back $5 from the First National Bank of Sierra Madre, Calif., brought $35,250.

This Plain Back $5 from the First National Bank of Sierra Madre, Calif., brought $35,250.

Bringing $38,187.50 was the only known Tonopah small-size serial No. 1 note. This 1929 Type 1 $10 hailed from the Nevada First National Bank of Tonopah, Nev., charter 8530 and was graded PCGS Extremely Fine 40PPQ.

A 1929 Type 1 serial No. 1 $10 from Tonopah, Nev. went for $38,187.50.

A 1929 Type 1 serial No. 1 $10 from Tonopah, Nev. went for $38,187.50.

Another note from the same bank, a large-size 1902 $5 Plain Back, Fr. 600, in PCGS Fine 12 sold for $22,325.

This 1902 $5 large-size from Tonopah, Nev. realized $22,325.

This 1902 $5 large-size from Tonopah, Nev. realized $22,325.

A PCGS Choice About New 58PPQ Colorado Territory Original Series $1 on the First National Bank of Pueblo, Territory of Colorado, charter 1833, Fr. 382, brought $35,250.

An Original Series $1 from the First National Bank of Pueblo, Territory of Colorado, sold for $35,250 in Fine 12.

An Original Series $1 from the First National Bank of Pueblo, Territory of Colorado, sold for $35,250 in Fine 12.

Additional leading lots were:

• 1882 $100 Date Back, The Black River National Bank, Lowville, N.Y., charter (E)2426, Fr. 571, PCGS Extemely Fine 40, $21,150;

• 1902 $100 Red Seal, The Merchants National Bank New York, N.Y., charter (E)1370, Fr. 686, PCGS Fine 12, $21,150;

• 1902 $50 Plain Bank, The Bank of America National Association, New York, N.Y., charter 13193, Fr. 685a, PCGS Very Fine 30, $30,550;

• 1882 $20 Brown Back, The First National Bank of Roff, Indian Territory, charter (W)5417, PCGS Very Fine 25PPQ, $23,500;

• 1934 $500 Federal Reserve Note Boston District, Fr. 2201-A, PCGS Superb Gem New 68PPQ, $23,500;

• 1974 $20/$10 double denomination Federal Reserve Note Dallas District, Fr. 2071-K, PCGS Choice About New 58PPQ, $32,900.

For additional information on this sale or upcoming auctions, visit www.HA.com.

A proof sheet from the Hudson City Bank of Hudson, Wis., was one of several in a book that once belonged to bank note engraver James Smillie.

A proof sheet from the Hudson City Bank of Hudson, Wis., was one of several in a book that once belonged to bank note engraver James Smillie.

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