Stack’s Bowers demonstrated Oct. 25 that some paper money beats inflation better than any silver or gold could.
A Series 1890 $1,000 Treasury Note sold for $2.04 million in Baltimore during an auction of the third part of the Joel R. Anderson Collection.
That’s over 2,000 times issue price.
In comparison, gold is up 59.5 times its $20.67 per ounce 1890 price.
Silver is up 15.3 times from its lowest 1890 price of 95.7 cents per ounce, or 12.16 times its highest 1890 price.
Of course, anybody who could have obtained a $1,000 bank note in 1890 would have been wealthy unlike the owner of a simple silver dollar or even a $20 gold piece.
Nowadays, the note is so incredibly valuable not because of its face value or inflation trends but because of its rarity, which makes it the objective of well-heeled paper money collectors.
This is one of only two notes known in private hands with the Rosecrans-Huston signature combination on its face.
It is cataloged as Friedberg 379a.
PCGS Currency grades it About New 50.
Stack’s Bowers points out that this note first crossed the $1 million barrier when it sold previously 13 years ago in a 2005.
This and most other notes in the Anderson collection were purchased by him in the last 15 years.
He is the chairman and director of the Anderson Companies, a conglomerate of corporations that includes music distribution and publishing companies.
Whitman Publishing, owner of the Red Book, is one of these properties, which is appropriate for an avid numismatist like Mr. Anderson.
This $1,000 is nicknamed the Grand Watermelon note by collectors.
Everybody knows that a “grand” is American slang for $1,000.
The zeroes on the back of the note look like watermelons.
The note has the top spot in Q. David Bowers and David Sundman’s 100 Greatest American Currency Notes book.
While the Grand Watermelon note claimed the highest price, other notes from the Anderson collection helped the sale reach $8,619,240 in total prices realized.
These don’t have appealing nicknames, but they do have appealing history.
A unique Act of October 12, 1837 $100 Interest Bearing Note went for $114,000.
This is the only known federal note issued between the 1815 Treasury Notes and the Demand Notes of 1861, the firm said.
A $10 Refunding Certificate graded About New 58 PPQ (Fr. 213) fetched $780,000.
It is the only one in private hands.
The other one is held by the Bureau of the Public Debt.
Strong prices were achieved by four Series 1878 Silver Certificates, according to Stack’s Bowers.
A $10 Silver Certificate, Fr. 284, graded Extremely Fine by PCGS Currency, sold for $240,000.
Only four of this denomination are known.
A $20 Silver Certificate of the same year realized $180,000.
The $50, Fr. 324c, brought $288,000, while the $100, Fr. 337b, sold for $660,000.
Add all three auction results together and, so far, the Anderson collection has brought $26,184,240.
The fourth and final sale is slated for February 2019 in Baltimore.
With collectible paper money such as this, inflation hedging is not the buyers' top priority.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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