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Image of Two Americas

Written By Bruce Roland Hagen, Senior Research Numismatist and Consignment Director, Currency

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Tuesday, February 26, 2013 / Categories: Paper Money of the Week
Interest in the American Civil War is currently at an all time high. Much of that is due to the 150th anniversaries of events, battles, and historical figures associated with this epic struggle pitting the North against the South. The conflict resulted from ideological and socio-economic divisions that rocked 19th century America. Of course, Lincoln, being nominated for Best Picture and its star winning the coveted Oscar for lead actor, puts the conflict even further into the forefront.

Our March 15, 2013 Baltimore paper money auction session (lots 5001-5924), commencing at 5:00 PM ET, will feature conflict of a different source: the cry of the auctioneer and competitive bidding from the floor, mail and internet will be the battlefield for those striving for these historical and collectible currency rarities. Many are from private collections, new to the market or last sold decades ago. The 924 lots cataloged will once again comprise a potpourri for all paper money enthusiasts, an opportunity to add to their collections by bidding perseverance. There will also be 392 Internet Only lots, 9001-9392.

Two particular notes from the sale, one northern and one southern, deserve strong attention by collectors for several reasons. Not only are they both stunningly beautiful as paper currency notes, but the case can be made that they are complementary, especially, when viewed along the lines of the Civil War and its developing events. They help form images of two Americas.

The Bank of North America $1,000 Proof (lot 5183) is new to the market, the second one known and first we have offered. The highest denomination from the bank authorized, the designs of this circa 1860 style note display the strength of the bank itself, as well as that of the nation which was accelerating towards a critical mass that would lead to armed conflict. Only a few short years before, the country had been in a banking crisis that swept away many frontier banks and affected the entire economy. Of course “The Bank,” as it was always known since 1782, survived and flourished. Franklin, Washington and the seated America are timeless.

Mirroring the former note is another classically designed and executed banknote by Hoyer & Ludwig. Emitted by the (Confederate) State of Virginia from Richmond, this hand dated August 13, 1861 $100 Virginia Treasury Note (lot 5348) is rare and one of the finest known. The Civil War had raged only for a few months and Southern optimism ran high after the early victory in Virginia at First Manassas, where Union forces were routed and retreated toward Washington. This note also features Washington as well, a Virginian first in the minds of southerners. The colorful red undertint used makes this first series of Virginia Treasury Notes among the most beautiful Criswell/Shull listed types (this example, the former 1976 Criswell Plate Note). Its grade of PCGS Choice About New 58 sends it into the upper echelon of the condition census and makes it worthy of approaching or exceeding five-figures.

Though these are only two of the rarities in our March 15, 2013 paper money session, we encourage you to view our currency session across the board for what currently interests you or perhaps something that catches your eye and becomes the foundation of new pursuit.

We are already planning a stellar paper money offering at the ANA World’s Fair of Money at Rosemont. Each of the last two years had sales in excess of $6 million with strong participation. It is never too early to make your plans and space runs out quickly for the premier paper money auction of the year. Call toll-free, Matt Quinn (1-800-458-4646 in California) or Bruce Hagen (1-800-566-2580 in New York) to discuss placing your important currency in the ANA event.