How to spend a 120 year old $5 bill - Newly discovered national banknote from 1892 leads Bonhams auction in New York

13 Dec 2012, Coins & Medals
Coins & Medals

How to spend a 120 year old $5 bill - Newly discovered national banknote from 1892 leads Bonhams auction in New York

13 Dec 2012, Coins & Medals

New York – Bonhams is pleased to announce a stellar result for its December 13 auction of Coins, Medals and Banknotes in New York. During the winter sale, the auction house was privileged to offer several rarities including "Property of a Gentleman: An Important Collection of English Coins," an exquisite collection of 45 lots English coinage struck between the 14th and 19th centuries and a newly discovered $5 Series 1882 "Brown Back" National Banknote from Creede, Colorado that sold for $101,790.

The previously unreported note was the first bill issued on March 29, 1892 by The First National Bank of Creede, Colorado on its first day of charter, the date of issue on this note. The institution only existed until December 31, 1895 when it was liquidated. In addition to the fact this is the only known example from Creede, it presents with bank serial number 1 and is accompanied with a paper envelope stating: "FIRST BILL ISSUED AT THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF CREEDE. SIGNED BY JOHN MCDONOUGH PR J.W. MERRITT CASHIER." All currency from this bank, Charter 4716, was issued as $5 notes in vertical sheets containing four subjects. As of 1910, only $255 face appraise (total) was still outstanding making this issue virtually unobtainable, even then.

Creede is a small town in Colorado with a population of only 290 people in 2010, located in Mineral County in Southwestern region of the state. It became a "boom town" in 1889 when large amounts of silver were discovered in nearby Willow Creek. Creede's boom lasted until 1893 when the Silver Panic overtook mining towns in Colorado. The price of silver plummeted and many of the silver mines were closed.
Colorado is a popular Western state for National Banknote collectors; many of the charters are considered scarce or rare. There are a number of unreported (unknown) issues, Creede previously being one. Collectors and connoisseurs alike will pay close attention as this note becomes available at Bonhams in December.

Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Medals Department at Bonhams, said of the banknote: "We were pleased to offer such a rare example in our winter auction. The previously unreported $5 banknote is 120 years old and holds a storied place in American history."

Several incredible rarities were offered in this auction - notably, "Property of a Gentleman: An Important Collection of English Coins," that featured not one but two examples of the Triple Unite struck under Charles I, who reigned from 1625-1649. The collection contained examples from both 1642 and 1643. The Triple Unites, or three pounds, was the highest denomination of English coinage to be struck during the era of hammered coinage, and were struck only during the English Civil War at Charles I's mints at Oxford and Shrewsbury. Fierce competition by bidders from the UK, Continental Europe and Asia was seen for every lot in this distinguished single owner Collection. The offering was 100% sold.

These gold coins are truly spectacular works of art in their own right. The 1642 design shows Charles I holding a sword while the 1643 design shows the ruler holding a sword and an olive branch. There is a reverse inscription in three lines on both designs. The coins brought $87,750 and $44,460, respectively.

Paul Song, states: "Bonhams was delighted to have been entrusted with this lovely collection of English Hammered and Milled coinage from a gentleman who collected these over a period of a decade. The silver and gold coinage spanned nearly six centuries and was amassed with a true love for English history and historical figures. With the recent strength of the classic English coin marketplace, we are pleased to announce a stellar result for the collection."

Gold and silver issues were a virtual litany of historically significant English Monarchs that included Richard II, Henry VI, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I, James Cromwell (Commonwealth issues), Charles II, James II, William and Mary, William III, Anne I, George II, William IV, and Victoria I.

Song also notes, "The coins of England and Great Britain have been valued and collected for more than a millennium, and visually embody some of the most significant moments in Western civilization. Bonhams was exceedingly pleased to offer these important coins to the collecting public".

Additional highlights from "Property of a Gentleman" included: a Mary I, 1553-1558, gold Sovereign struck in 1553 (pre-auction estimate $20,000-25,000, sold for $84,240); James I, 1603-1625, gold Sovereign (First coinage 1603) (pre-auction estimate $15,000-18,000, sold for $40,950); a Charles I, 1625-1649, silver Halfcrown, 1645 (pre-auction estimate $10,000-15,000, sold for $40,950); a Henry VIII, 1509-1547, gold Sovereign (pre-auction estimate $18,000-22,000, sold for $35,100); a William and Mary, 1689-1694, gold 5 Guineas of 1692 (pre-auction estimate $18,000-22,000, sold for $29,250); a William III, 1689-1702, gold 5 Guineas, 1701 (pre-auction estimate $10,000-15,000, sold for $29,250); an Elizabeth I, 1558-1603, gold Pound (pre-auction estimate $12,000-15,000, sold for $25,740); a George II, 1727-1760, Gold 5 Guineas, 1741 (pre-auction estimate $7,000-9,000, sold for $25,740) and a Richard II, 1377-1399, Gold Noble, a delicate and exquisite coin - one of the earliest in the collection (pre-auction estimate $3,500-4,500, sold for $4,914).

Auctions of Coins, Medals and Banknotes at Bonhams will continue in May 2013 in Los Angeles. Highlights for the sale will be available in late January. For more information about the department, please visit www.bonhams.com/uscoins


NOTES FOR EDITORS

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com