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A Unique Set 1869 Legal Tender “Rainbow Notes” Complete from $1 to $1000!

By Stack's Bowers Galleries

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Thursday, January 17, 2019 / Categories: Highlights from the Joel R. Anderson Collection

Excitement and more excitement as we go into Part 4 of this unique collection, which will cross the block at the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore at the end of February. 

The Anderson Collection by definition includes notes from affordable and available to great rarities—among the last being notes that are unique as well as those that are the finest known. An incredible aspect of our Part 4 offering is that it contains the only complete set of 1869 “Rainbow Notes” ever auctioned. They will be offered one at a time, the $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1000 denominations, all Condition Census!

Among 19th century issues the 1869 Series of Legal Tender Notes are among the most desirable showpieces in all of American federal currency. Instantly recognizable by their beautiful hues of green, blue and red, bills from this series are popularly referred to as "Rainbow Notes." 

As a sample of what to expect we showcase the lowest denomination, the $1, and the two highest, the incredible $500 and $1000:

 

Gem New 66 1869 "Rainbow" Ace


Lot 4001. Friedberg 18 (Whitman-11). 1869 $1 Legal Tender Note. PCGS Currency Gem New 66 PPQ. 
The 1869 Series of Legal Tender Notes are among the most desirable issues in all of American federal currency. Instantly recognizable by their beautiful hues of green, blue and red, bills from this series are popularly referred to as "Rainbow Notes." The $1 offered here portrays George Washington within an oval frame at center. The portrait was engraved by Alfred Sealey and was based on the famous painting by Gilbert Stuart. At left is the vignette Columbus in Sight of Land as engraved by Joseph P. Ourdan. Green tints are seen along the top border of the design and a green serial number panel is to the lower left. A large red spiked Treasury Seal is at right. The serial numbers are in red and found to the lower left and upper right. The type features the engraved signatures of Treasury officials Allison and Spinner at the bottom left and right respectively. The back is intricately printed in green with the imprint of the National Bank Note Company at bottom center. Legal Tender and anti-counterfeiting language are found in a panel at right. These notes come on blue tinted security paper based on Wilcox's 1866 patent. Series of 1869 notes were issued from October 19, 1869 to July 25, 1874. Nearly 42 million examples of the $1 denomination were printed.

The Anderson note is among the finest PCGS Currency has graded. They have certified just one example finer, that piece receiving a Superb Gem New 67 PPQ designation. Likewise, PMG has graded just a single note at the Superb Gem Uncirculated 67 EPQ level. The offered example features broad, even margins and strictly original paper surfaces. The colorful overprint inks which lends this series its "Rainbow" nickname are fully displayed in their intended brilliance.

This is a wonderful example of a very popular large size federal design type. The present piece is about as nice a note as one could hope to obtain.

 

Incredible 1869 $500 "Rainbow" Legal Tender Note

 

The Only Privately Held Example of the Type

Lot 4015. Friedberg 184 (Whitman-4060). 1869 $500 Legal Tender Note. PCGS Currency Choice About New 55 PPQ.  While rare and outstanding notes abound throughout the Joel R. Anderson Collection, the significance of the present note is impossible to overstate. This 1869 $500 "Rainbow" Legal Tender Note is the only example of its type available to collectors.

The note features the allegorical figure Justice at left, holding balance scales in her left hand and an upward pointing sword in her right. The denomination is boldly displayed in an ornate die counter at center. The portrait of President John Quincy Adams is in an oval frame at right. The serial numbers are in red and found to the lower left and upper right of center. A large pink Treasury Seal is just to the right of center. The engraved signatures of Allison and Spinner are along the bottom border of the design. The back is ornately printed in green with large 500 counters at left and right and the Legal Tender clause inside a circular frame at center.

Just 89,360 examples were printed and today only three are known to exist. Serial Number N16035, a repaired Very Fine note, resides in the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution. The second note, serial N31963, is recorded as a damaged Fine and is permanently impounded in the collection of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The presently offered example, with serial number N48792, is the only 1869 $500 Legal Tender Note in private hands. Moreover, it is far and away the finest in condition!

The present $500 Series of 1869 Legal Tender Note is one the greatest U.S. currency rarities available for private ownership. It has never traded publicly at auction and has only been sold by private treaty twice in the last several decades. This is the first and perhaps only opportunity most collectors will ever have to compete for this exceptional piece of American numismatic history. One of the greatest highlights from the monumental Joel R. Anderson Collection, this note could be a record setter and is truly worth whatever bid is required to acquire it.

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The Only Privately Held 1869 $1000 "Rainbow" Legal Tender Note

 

A Paramount Numismatic Rarity

Lot 4016. Friedberg 186f (Whitman-4510). 1869 $1000 Legal Tender Note. PCGS Currency About New 53. Future U.S. currency enthusiasts will look back upon our four catalogs of the Joel R. Anderson Collection with amazement at how many outstanding notes it contained. Not since the Albert A. Grinnell Collection have so many rarities been held by a single owner, and Barney Bluestone's 1946 sale of the Grinnell Collection in 1946 was the last time this Fr.186f (W-4510) 1869 $1000 "Rainbow" Legal Tender Note was offered at auction.

This example, with serial number Z29763 and from plate C, is the sole privately held example of the type and is the finest of just two known to exist. The other known note bears serial number Z51324, is from plate D and is recorded as Very Fine plus. It is forever held in the collection of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

A portrait of DeWitt Clinton is featured at center, while to the left is Columbus in His Study, depicting the explorer seated at his desk with a globe nearby on the floor. To the right is a large pink spiked Treasury Seal. The serial numbers are in red, located to the lower left and upper right of the portrait. Engraved signatures of Treasury officials Allison and Spinner are along the bottom border of the design. The back of the note is printed in green with a Roman numeral M counter left of center and 1000 to the right of center. The Legal Tender clause and anti-counterfeiting language are seen at center. Imprints of the American Bank Note Company are at top and bottom center. These 1869 $1000s were printed on paper with a blue-tinted streak based on Wilcox's 1866 patent. Series of 1869 notes were issued from October 19, 1869 until July 25, 1874. There were 74,400 examples of the $1000 note printed.

The presently offered note is brilliantly colored and appears New at first glance. Upon closer inspection some faint traces of handling can be seen, primarily from the verso. All of the engraved design elements are sharp and in bold inks. The paper is wholesome, cream in color and free of any distracting marks or blemishes. The margins are full, although the top margin is a touch thin compared with the others. The back is well centered and boldly presented.

Only one fortunate collector can lay claim to an 1869 $1000 "Rainbow" note at any given time, and such ownership cements a place among legendary names like Grinnell, Carter, Dauer, and now, yet another potential record setting note from the Joel R. Anderson Collection. When an opportunity like this comes along serious buyers should just keep their bidder cards held high until the hammer falls.