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PCGS Banknote Grades $1,000 'Grand Watermelon' Note

The finest known example of the ultra-rare 1890 $1,000 “Grand Watermelon” Note, which in 2005 became the first bank note to bring $1 million at auction, has been certified and graded by PCGS Banknote, according to a July 9 statement.

Issued in $100 and $1,000 denominations and originally redeemable in gold or silver coin, they were dubbed "Watermelon" notes because of the color and design of the large zeroes on the reverse of the note.

PCGS Banknote recently graded this 1890 $1,000 "Grand Watermelon" note. (Images courtesy Professional Coin Grading Service)

PCGS Banknote recently graded this 1890 $1,000 "Grand Watermelon" note. (Images courtesy Professional Coin Grading Service)

The $1,000 note, commonly referred to as a "Grand Watermelon," is extremely rare and given the large face value of this 1890-vintage note – $1,000, roughly equivalent to $29,000 today – it was scarcely seen outside of interbank commerce. This rarity, cataloged by banknote experts Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg as Fr.379a, saw a tiny printing of only 16,000, and just two are known today and available in private hands. The piece PCGS Banknote recently graded is featured on the cover of 100 Greatest American Currency Notesby Q. David Bowers and David M. Sundman (Whitman Publishing, 2005).

“I am very excited to have this iconic and historic note certified and encapsulated by PCGS Banknote,” says Stack’s Bowers Galleries Director of Currency Peter A. Treglia. “I believe it continues to solidify its importance to the numismatic community.”

“Year after year, PCGS-graded coins top the list for highest auction prices realized,” says PCGS President Brett Charville. “When we relaunched our bank note grading service, we knew we would attract the best of the best. Not only does this piece represent one of the most important rarities in our hobby, but to have it come through our grading room just six months after resuming our banknote grading services domestically also highlights the trust and confidence the industry has in PCGS and underscores that our holders offer the maximum in value, security, and liquidity.”

For more information on the $1,000 "Grand Watermelon" note or PCGS Banknote, visit their website at

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