The Stack’s Bowers Galleries January 11, 2018, sale of the Eldorado Collection of Colombian Paper Money commenced the firm’s five official NYINC auction sessions with intense bidding that lasted several hours and saw countless banknote rarities rocket to astounding levels, many at multiples of their pre-sale estimates. Those attending represented a who’s who of Colombian numismatics that recognized the extraordinary opportunity to obtain items that in many cases were confirmed as existing or were being auctioned publicly for the first time. Numerous individual sale results indicate that many of these notes were unique or considered so by the enthusiastic bidding gallery.
When all 703 lots were sold (including 98 Internet-only lots sold January 15, 2018), the sale totaled $1,113,766 (all results include the buyer’s premium) and enjoyed 100% sell-through.
The nearly 200-page sale catalog portrays the broadest view of this subject ever published in English or Spanish. Commencing in 1819 and continuing to the present day were countless note types, from the majority of known series and issuers. Many notes offered in the sale were unpriced in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money (“Pick”). For the first time many Colombian Proof and Specimen notes from the 1990 American Banknote Company archive sale were cataloged individually and sold.
The individual highlights were numerous with the most frenetic bidding taking place for the fully issued notes that led the session. This was particularly so for Banco Nacional 1899-1900 Civil War overprint issues and high denomination República issues.
The early 1881 Banco Nacional 5 Pesos Pick-135 (lot 10010) reached $16,800.
The pre-sale interest for lot 10025, the Banco Nacional 1895 1,000 Pesos issued note in PMG Very Fine 25, foreshadowed its $30,000 final tally for this iconic type, which may be unique in the offered form. This type’s immense importance was confirmed later in the sale when a Specimen impression graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 63EPQ and formerly from the 1990 ABN sale, realized $21,600 (lot 10496). This is a record price for a Colombian Specimen note by far.
The sale contained two denominations from the “Billete Provisional” overprint on Casa de Mondeda de Medellín series, both from the 1997 Amon Carter, Jr. sale. The PMG Very Fine 35 5 Pesos in lot 10044 realized $33,600, nearly four times its high estimate. That price led the sale for only moments before lot 10045 fell under the gavel and sold for $84,000. That 1923 República four-piece gold note set featured matching serial number 0000003 notes from 1 Peso to 10 Pesos in PMG Choice Uncirculated 63.
There were nearly 100 lots of private “Bancos” as listed in Pick Specialized. The majority offered issued notes and many were exceptional 1899-1900 Provisional types overprinted for the Banco Nacional. Many sold for $5,000 or more. Three issued notes from the July 20, 1876, Banco de Colombia series printed by the Columbian Bank Note Company, 5, 10, and 20 Pesos, sold for $12,000, $18,000, and $19,200.
Selling for $12,000 each were a Banco Nacional overprinted on Banco de Marquez 100 Pesos (lot 10127) and a Banco Nacional oveprinted on Banco Popular 50 Pesos (lot 10131). A pair of issued notes from the Casa de Mondeda de Medellín sold for five-figures. A 10 Pesos in PMG Very Fine 25 Net (lot 10167) realized $16,800 and the highest denomination, 20 Pesos, graded PMG Very Fine 25 Net reached $21,000.
The remainder of the public session offered Proofs and Specimens obtained at the 1990-1991 ABN sales. Though Proofs are less popular with specialists than issued notes, often many Colombian types can only be obtained in those formats and the ornately engraved types in high grades were the most sought after. Complete two-sided Specimen notes achieved strong prices, even if they had archival faults such as former back mounting strips.
A Banco del Estado 25 Pesos Specimen (lot 10378) realized $4,320 graded PMG Uncirculated 63 Net. A full sheet of Banco de la República, Bogotá unnumbered Specimens (P-S807-S810) graded PMG About Uncirculated 58 EPQ, brought $7,800 (lot 10424).
The most popular 20th-century Proofs were from the rare and historic 1923 Gold Note series. The 500 Pesos P-367 face and back pair realized $5,280 as lot 10511. That realization was matched when a similar pair was sold in the Internet session as lot 13078. A complete seven-denomination set of face and back “Secret Marks” Proofs from the 1923 series realized $7,800 (10537).
This sale was an epic event in Colombian paper money collecting, with hundreds of notes joining new cabinets for the first time in decades. Further notes from The Eldorado Collection will be offered in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ official auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money, August 14-18, 2018, in Philadelphia. That sale will include additional Proofs and Specimens obtained at the ABN sales, private company notes, República special serial numbers and replacements, and “falsos.”