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Rare Nevada notes in auction

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A large-size $10 from the McGill National Bank leads a group of 58 Nevada National Bank Notes that will be offered in a Holabird Western Americana Collections auction Sept. 24-27.

The $10 note might be unique, Holabird said, and he graded it uncirculated.

Fred Holabird holds a rare McGill National Bank note.

Fred Holabird holds a rare McGill National Bank note.

“At the height of the market, before the crash, it might have been worth upwards of $100,000,” Holabird said. “But it might be worth $50,000 today. The bidders will tell us.”

When the McGill bank closed in 1934 there was only $1,210 in National Bank Notes outstanding, Holabird said. “They got almost all of it back,” he explained.

Only one of the 58 notes has been graded by a third-party grading firm. Halabird said they came from an old Nevada collection.

In small notes the auction also includes one $10 note and two $20 notes from the McGill bank, all Type 1 with low serial numbers.

There is a large-size $10 First National Bank of Winnemucca note Holabird described as a gem. There are also two large $50 notes. For small notes, there are two $5, two $10 and a $20, all Type 1. The bank had $9,855 outstanding in notes when it closed in 1935.

The First National Bank of Winnemucca was reportedly robbed by Butch Cassidy but that was never proven, Holabird said.

For the First National Bank of Ely there is one $5 in a large note, two $10s and one $20. Holabird said the $10 notes have different signatories. Ely and neighboring McGill were one of America’s largest copper mining camps that produced about $400 million in metals before World War II.

For small notes, there is one $5 and two $20s, all Type 1, from the First National Bank of Ely. For the Ely National Bank, there are two $20s, both Type 1, and two $10 notes, a Type 1 and Type 2. First National Bank of Ely had $49,000 outstanding in notes in 1935 and Ely National Bank had $43,050 outstanding.

In large-size notes for the Reno Farmers and Merchants Bank, there is a $10 and a $20. For the Reno National Bank there are three $50 and a $100, some signed by Nevada mining financier and historical figure George Wingfield.

In small-size notes, there is a First National Bank of Reno $10 Type 2 note, PCGS-64, Holabird said. For Reno National Bank, there are four $50 notes, including low serial numbers, and a type 1 $100 with serial number 6, probably owned by one of the bank’s original officers.

In the last of the large notes, there are three $10 First National Bank of Elko notes, all with different signatures, and two $20s, also with different signatures. In small-size notes, there are $5 and $10 notes, and Elko had $2,180 out in small notes and $6,262 in large size when it closed in 1932.

In small-size notes, for the Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Eureka, there are two $10 notes, one Type 1 and one Type 2, and three $20s, all Type 1, all with low serial numbers. Eureka was a silver mining camp, producing about $65 million before World War II.

For Lovelock there are two $10s, one Type 1 and one Type 2, and a Type 1 $20. Lovelock was the commercial center for mines in the mountains north of town that included Seven Troughs and Mazuma.

For the First National Bank of Tonopah, there is one $10 and one $20, both Type 1. Tonopah was another major Nevada mining camp with about $150 million in gold and silver production before World War II.

Peter Huntoon, who has written about currency for more than four decades and was one of the authors of the 1973 book “The National Bank Note Issues of 1929-1935,” said Nevada National Bank Notes are rare because there were relatively few banks and most of those banks were small. Nevada had only 16 issuing banks, for instance, while California had 509.

“That’s one of the scarcest states in the country,” Huntoon said. “Alaska is the only state smaller with three.”

The low estimate for the sale is $1 million to $2 million, Holabird said. Other items being auctioned include:

• One of the best collections ever assembled of western Mechanics Fair and Agricultural medals.

• About 100 California fractional gold pieces.

• Large selection of facsimile currency and advertising notes.

• A major selection of Montana tokens from the Bob Svoboda collection that Holabird Americana is selling over a year.

• More than 100 other numismatic collectibles.

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This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express.
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