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A Unique Note $5,000 Legal Tender Specimen Note

By Stack's Bowers Galleries

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Wednesday, October 03, 2018 / Categories: Highlights from the Joel R. Anderson Collection

This unique note by definition represents a unique opportunity. The note, while graded VF, seems to be higher than that. In any event it is full color on face and back and appears exactly like an issued note except for the serial number. Proof large-size federal notes are a rarest of the rare category. Often, years or even decades will pass between offerings of a given variety. As to this note, this is another of many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in the Joel R. Anderson Collection.

Part III includes ultra-rarities such as this unique note, the finest known 1890 “Watermelon Note,” and others as well as a selection of common types. The collection of the types of large-size federal paper money from 1861 to 1928 includes high-grade available notes that will allow any collector to have a note with the Anderson provenance.

The Joel R. Anderson Collection Part III will be held on Thursday evening, October 25, at the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo, always one of the best-attended and most dynamic shows of the year. The red carpet will be rolled out for you if you attend in person. Or, you can bid in virtual reality on the Internet. Either way it would be a pleasure to have you participate as an observer or a bidder.

Out description for this unique $5,000 proof is below:


Lot 3015. Friedberg 188 (W-4970). 1878 $5,000 Legal Tender Note. PCGS Currency Very Fine 25. Specimen.

One of the key highlights of the Joel R. Anderson Collection, this Fr.188 1878 $5000 Legal Tender Specimen, was furnished to the Chinese government by the U.S. Treasury Department. It is the only example of the type known and the only non-proof large size $5,000 note available to the collecting public.

This note is a fully accomplished note printed on BEP bank note paper. It appears just as a fully issued note would have save for the three solid blue stars placed in the serial number panels and the brown overprint stating its specimen status. The type has the portrait of James Madison at left. A gold 5000 counter is found at top center while the serial number panels at bottom left and upper right are also in gold. A large red spiked Treasury Seal is centered on the note while a 5000 die counter is to the far right. Engraved signatures of Scofield and Gilfillan are in the bottom right corner. Each signature has three small punch cancellations. The back is printed in green and features an eagle perched on a shield, atop a rock overlooking the sea. Vertical 5000 counters are to the far left and right.

While clearly a note that never entered circulation, the handling is commensurate with the Very Fine grade assigned by the grading service. The inks are all bold and the paper is bright and free of distractions.

Just 4,000 pieces were printed for this catalog number and no issued examples are known to survive. If this were a fully issued note of equal rarity it would certainly be conceivable that it could bring over $2 million. Still this is as close to an issued note as any collector can hope to obtain. This note realized $805,000 when it was auctioned in September 2007. It is just as rare and significant now as it was then.

PCGS Population: 1, none finer.

From Heritage Auctions’ sale of September 2007, lot 15306.

Est. $600,000-$800,000