Outstanding national banknotes lead the way in $5.1m Memphis auction

Heritage Auction Galleries' Currency Signature Auction - held in conjunction with the Memphis International Paper Money Show - proved that the rare currency markets are stronger than ever, with total sales of $5.1m.

Highlights included the Walla Walla, Washington Territory $5 banknote from 1875. Going to market for the very first time, the note is from the only Washington State bank to have issued First Charter Territorial examples, and is the third known example to emerge for sale to collectors.

The Walla Walla, Washington Territory $5 banknote from 1875

According to Heritage, the other two examples have been in major private collections for some years, with one grading Very Good and the other Extremely Fine. Neither have been offered at public sale; although one reportedly traded years ago for a sum of well-over six figures.

Billed as "outstanding in every respect" with bright paper, a vivid red overprint and superb colours which "look nearly as nice as they did on the day this note was printed 130 years ago," the Walla Walla sold with an estimate of $100,000-$150,000 and eventually brought $161,000.

Also among the big sales was this $5,000 LGS Federal Reserve Note from 1934, graded a 'Very Fine' 30 by PMG - also new to the market after it was decided, luckily for collectors, to send the notes to market rather than send them to the Federal Reserve to be locked up... or destroyed.

A 'very fine' $5,000 LGS Federal Reserve Note from 1934

Described as "fresh, unadulterated and for an unknown reason does not carry an EPQ designation," by Heritage, the attractive and bright note was well-and-truly saved from oblivion, realising a final value of $63,250.

Elsewhere, a uncirculated BC-28 $1,000 from the Osborne-Towers signature issues - printed in 1937, intended to supersede the 1935 issue but not actually released for circulation until 1952 - sold for an impressive $19,550.

One of 15,000 of these notes printed back in the 1930s, this example - with a low serial number, A/K0000122 - is, according to Heritage, "most likely one of the nicest - if not the nicest" of the few surviving examples. It is graded Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ.

Possibly the 'nicest' BC-28 $1,000 banknote, printed in 1937

"This auction contained a wide variety of significant US and World notes," said Allen Mincho, Director of Currency Auctions at Heritage. "And savvy collectors — both at the show and online — were more than happy to take advantage of the offerings."

All of the above prices include a 15% Buyer's Premium. The sale was held in Memphis, Tennessee between June 17-19.

The next Heritage Currency Signature auction is scheduled for August 8-15; one of three sales being held by the Auction House at the ANA World's Fair of Money.


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