Sensational Pennsylvania First Charter $50 National Banknote in Stack's Bowers March Auction

By Christopher DahnckeCurrency Auction Associate, Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
 

The Stack’s Bowers Galleries March 2021 Las Vegas sale features an exciting array of United States currency, from marbled edge Continental notes to high-denomination Federal Reserve Notes. One of my personal favorites in the sale is lot 3527 from the Tarzan Collection, an 1875 $50 National banknote from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in PMG Choice Extremely Fine 45 grade.

Track and Price’s census reports this $50 as the earliest and the only first charter note from this Allegheny County issuing bank. First charter fifties have always been heralded rarities, with only 103 documented in the National Banknote Census. Only 14 are listed as XF or better, and two of those are in museums. The majority of the remaining 12 have limited auction histories and just one other example even has a picture in the database.

The note displays art-like appeal and intricate details which are typical of the era. One would almost want to frame this piece and display it as art given the Americana motifs. At left is a highly detailed design of Washington crossing the Delaware before the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776. The battle would go down in history and American folklore as a dicey surprise attack which saw Washington’s forces surprise and defeat Hessian forces under the command of Johann Gottlieb Rall. At right is a design of George Washington praying, with Liberty and Justice represented in the background in front of the Stars and Stripes.

The reverse of the note depicts the “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” from a mural by Robert W. Weir. At left is the seal of the State of Pennsylvania, with a bald eagle at right. The border design is in dark green ink while the central design is in dark black ink. I encourage bidders to consider this opportunity carefully as it may be another 15 years before another First Charter $50 makes an auction appearance. This mid-grade example offers all the appeal one could ask for at the assigned grade. It is estimated at $75,000 – $125,000 and is on our website for pre-auction viewing and bidding.

Our March 2021 Las Vegas auction is currently posted to our website for viewing. The Currency sale will take place on Thursday, March 25 at 2:00 PM PT. To consign your U.S. paper money to future sales, contact a consignment specialist at 800-458-4646 or visit StacksBowers.com. For more information on viewing lots or for assistance in registering to bid, email Info@stacksbowers.com.
 

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