Sunday, March 2, 2008
"D. B. Cooper" Skyjacking Ransom Notes Certified
February 13, 2008
(Newport Beach, California) – Nearly two dozen $20 denomination notes from the infamous 1971 “D. B. Cooper” skyjacking have been certified by PCGS Currency on behalf of the owner who found them a quarter-century ago.
The bills belong to Brian Ingram, 36, of Mena, Arkansas who was eight years old in 1980 when he found the only ransom cash ever recovered from the infamous skyjacking.
“Even though the notes were damaged from apparently being in the Columbia River for years, we were able to match serial numbers with those on the FBI’s list of the $200,000 in $20 bills the skyjacker had when he jumped from the jetliner. There was even a Series 1963A star note,” said Laura A. Kessler, Vice President of PCGS Currency (www.PCGSCurrency.com) of Newport Beach, California, who headed the certification team.
Kessler carefully separated some of the notes and note fragments that were affixed together for decades, revealing serial numbers or Federal Reserve District seals.
Ingram plans to keep one note and sell the rest. Some of the notes will be displayed for the public to see in person for the first time at the Long Beach, California Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo in the Long Beach Convention Center, February 14 – 16, 2008.
“This is the only identifiable group of United States currency that can be directly linked to such an historic and infamous event. The only comparison of such significance would possibly be the Lindbergh ransom money, but none of those notes is known to have survived for collectors today, said PCGS Currency President Jason W. Bradford.
Ingram personally brought the notes to California for certification and will attend the opening of the Long Beach Expo on Thursday, February 14.
“I was eight years old and on vacation with my parents on February 10, 1980, when I found about $5,800 of the ransom money along the banks of the Columbia River near Vancouver, Washington,” Ingram recalled.
“We were going to make a fire along the river bank. I was on my hands and knees smoothing out the sand with my right arm, and I uncovered three bundles of money just below the surface. My uncle thought we should throw it in the fire.”
His family turned the money over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Eventually, the FBI returned 25 bills to them along with dozens of fragments that contained little or no trace of serial numbers. Most of the notes have lightly written initials of FBI agents who inventoried and examined the items soon after they were discovered by Ingram.
Ingram carefully kept the notes for decades in the protective pages of photo albums.
A specially made PCGS Currency holder insert was created for the certified notes. The encapsulation insert depicts the famous 1971 artist’s sketch of the sunglasses-wearing skyjacker and includes the words, “D. B. Cooper 1971 Ransom Money.” Illustrated certificates of authenticity, signed by Ingram, Bradford and Kessler, are being prepared for each of the notes.
No grades are being assigned because of the deteriorated condition of the notes, and, therefore, they will not appear in the PCGS Currency Population Report. An inventory of the certified money will be available later.
No trace has ever been found of the skyjacker, known as “Dan Cooper” or “D. B. Cooper,” or any other money he had when he parachuted in a rainstorm from a Northwest Airlines 727 jetliner over rugged terrain somewhere between Seattle, Washington and Reno, Nevada on November 24, 1971.