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1882 Gold Certificates Top FUN Sale
By Bank Note Reporter
December 20, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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The only Fr. 1215d $500 1882 Gold Certificate known to exist in private hands is expected to bring in excess of $2 million in Heritage Auctions’ Florida United Numismatists Currency Signature Auction, Jan. 8-10, and Jan. 13 in Orlando, Fla. The sale is in conjunction with the Florida United Numismatists show at the Orange County Convention Center.

According to the auctioneer, the 1882 $500 comes from the estate of a turn-of-the-century banker and includes three other Gold Certificate rarities. The only other known 1882 Fr. 1215d $500 is in the Smithsonian.

The Heritage auction also includes an Fr. 379b $1,000 1890 Treasury Note, popularly referred to as the small-seal Grand Watermelon note, which is also expected to change hands for $2 million plus.

“I can speak for our staff when I say that preparing the January FUN auction has been a true career highlight,” said Dustin Johnston, director of currency auctions at Heritage. “Just when we think we’ve seen it all, we turn up new notes. This auction surprised us with items that we assumed would never turn up in our lifetime or in the future. The odds of survival made their discovery highly unlikely.”

This year’s event kicks off with a 200-lot Platinum Night Auction presenting an Fr. 1218d $1,000 1882 Gold Certificate. Referred to as a “Large Brown Spiked Seal” note, the specimen is one of four known, with two in private hands. Prior to the discovery, only three examples were known to exist. Heritage estimates it will sell for more than $1 million.

A second 1882 Gold Certificate, an Fr. 1218e $1,000 note, is one of four known and likely unique in private hands. According to the auctioneer, the appearance of the note raises the census from three to four, with two of the three previously known notes residing in the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “The piece offers bright white paper and fresh ink colors on both sides, which has set its pre-auction estimate at $1+ million.”

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An Fr. 1202a $100 1882 Gold Certificate is called a unique discovery and likely the only one of its kind in collectors’ hands. “The unique, small brown seal, triple signature $100 has the appearance, color, and eye appeal of a high end extra fine note and as such is expected to sell for $700,000+.”

A unique Fr. 11a $20 1861 Demand Note dates to a period when such notes were hand-signed by Treasury clerks for the responsible government officials. The clerks added the words “for the” following their signatures, affixed above “Register of the Treasury” and “Treasurer of the United States.” Specimens with hand-written “for the” are extremely rare and this one is thought to be worth $600,000 or above.

Among highly anticipated lots is a Fr. 377 $100 1890 Treasury Note, popularly referred to as a “Baby Watermelon Note.” This specimen is one of just 35 examples known to exist and is expected to break $250,000.

Platinum night also features a 1969A serial No. 00000000 $1 Federal Reserve Note. “The note tells a story of how these pieces were numbered at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, but in this case, it may be the only known example to feature the solid zero serial number to appear at auction.”

National Bank Note discoveries are also of significance, including a Series 1902 note from south San Francisco, which is said to be the first time California collectors have seen a note from this locale, “one of the last highly coveted and previously unknown locations from the state.” It carries a pre-auction estimate of $25,000-$35,000.

From Mississippi, a Serial No. 1 Red Seal $5 from Clarksdale is another unlikely survivor from a previously unknown bank. “To date, just one other Serial Number 1 Red Seal has been offered at auction from the state, making it a rarity that will appeal to more than just Mississippi collectors.” It’s estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

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