Friday, August 22, 2008

First U. S. $2 Note On Auction Block

By Heritage Auctions
Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heritage Auction Galleries will offer the very first $2 note ever printed by the U. S. Government in their upcoming Long Beach Currency Signature Auction, to be held September 17-19, 2008.

This first of a kind, Serial Number One note is a true miracle of survival, and has obviously spent countless hours, days and years traveling throughout our systems of commerce. Referencing the 2005 Memphis catalog by Smythe, this note has now had four owners in the past one hundred years, two of whom have owned it for approximately seventy of those years.

It can originally be pedigreed to ANA Member #187 Abe Hepner, who owned the note for the first half of the 20th Century. He sold the note in the 1950’s. The note was exhibited by the second owner at the 1971 and 1972 ANA Conventions, as well as the 1973 Greater Eastern Numismatic Association show, then quietly resided within the collection of an unnamed third owner, who eventually offered the note in Smythe’s 2005 sale.

The note was catalogued and graded raw as a Very Good. PCGS has now encapsulated the note, and has agreed with the original assessment.

The face of the note bears a portrait of Alexander Hamilton, with a double Serial #1 and plate position A, designating that this is the top note from the first sheet printed, as there were four notes to a sheet, with letters as plate positions running from top to bottom.

“Due to an inability to pay its debts in gold or silver during the Civil War, the U. S. Congress authorized the printing of a new series of paper notes, called Legal Tenders, in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1000″ said Jim Fitzgerald, Consignment Director for Heritage. “Initially resisted by the people, who were accustomed to the established gold and silver coinage, the Legal Tender Act of 1862 firmly established the paper money as a legitimate form of currency in the United States.”

When the Legal Tender Series of 1862 was first released, the very first $1 note was indeed saved, and, according to reports, resides with the Chase Manhattan Bank of New York, most likely never to be auctioned to the public. The reasoning is simple with that note, in that Salmon P. Chase is depicted on that note, as the bank was originally named in his honor, even though he had no financial interest in the bank.

This note was simply turned out into circulation with the release of the $2 Legals, which, along with the $1, were the very first denominations of their kind printed by the U.S. Government, as the Demand Note Series of 1861 released the first $5, $10 and $20 notes the previous year.

“The note is a true miracle of survival, and obviously has circulated for quite some time, having been graded Very Good 8 by PCGS Currency,” Fitzgerald said. “This is an important piece of American history, and deserves an honored spot in a fine collection.” The note is estimated at $125,000.

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