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A "Wow" $1,000 Note

Written by Q. David Bowers, Chairman Emeritus

Author: Q. David Bowers / Friday, July 13, 2012 / Categories: From the Desk of Q. David Bowers
One of my pleasures in professional numismatics is having the opportunity to see and, often, catalog choice, interesting, and rare items consigned for auction. Starting last January I became involved in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries official auction for the forthcoming World’s Fair of Money (summer ANA convention) sale. As you read these words the convention is just a few weeks away. I hope to see you there!

First out of the starting gate for me was the Hoosier Flyer Collection of pattern and regular issue small cents from the 1850s—some amazing treasures. The cataloging of this was done in January. Next came the Battle Born Collection of Carson City coinage—absolutely complete and in wonderful preservation—with the surface descriptions and technical details by Jeff Ambio and the history, background, and “romance” by Rusty Goe and me. As the months passed on the calendar the entire “Dream Team” of experts on the SBG staff pitched in—ultimately viewing, researching, and describing thousands of items in just about every numismatic specialty.

Many of the coins, tokens, medals, and bank notes are “old friends” in that I handled them in the past or others in the company have (remembering that Stack’s goes back to 1933!). Every now and again there is a show-stopper, a landmark item that I have never handled before or, if I have, then not for a long time. Coming up for sale is such an item, a $1000 Series of 1880 Legal Tender Note. Certified as VF-35 by PCGS this note was sold in December 1998 for $42,800, then two years later for $99,000, then in May 2005 for $126,500.

There are 13 known examples of Friedberg-187j, three of which are permanently in institutions, leaving 10 in private hands. Of those, the note that will cross the auction block at the ANA convention is thought to be the second finest known.

The design includes the famous portrait vignette of DeWitt Clinton resting a hand on his face at center. Christopher Columbus is seen seated at left in study and there is a small red scalloped Treasury seal at right situated below “1,000,” counter at upper right. DeWitt Clinton was a prominent American who served as the Mayor of New York City from 1803 to 1815 and later as governor of the Empire State. “United States,” seen arched and flanking central portrait with “One Thousand Dollars,” arched below. The Roman numeral M is at the lower center with Lyons | Roberts Treasury signatures at left and right respectively. Even and light circulation keeps the ink tones strong while bold overprints remain as well. An intricate verso layout has highly ornamental floral devices throughout and detailed central guilloche with scarce “$” seen preceding the denomination. Very important problem free paper is present with the banknote being free from typical restorations found on many high profile rarities. Here indeed is one of the highlights of the year in paper money offerings.