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Bonhams to Offer Historic Edison Banknote: First Dollar Collected For Electric Light in New York City

A historic note from the dawn of the electric age…

noteOn April 7, 2014, Bonhams will auction off a historic United States $1 Note. The well-worn note, which bares the serial number Z17876154, would be unexceptional save for the following historical inscription:

“This bill is one from a total amount of $50. Which was the first bill collected for the sale of Edison Electric Light in first Central Station District, New York City. Jan. 18, 1883. Ansonia Brass & Copper Company. 17 & 19 Cliff Street. This light was furnished through a Meter. Chas. L. Clarke.”

Clarke (1853-1941) was Chief Engineer of the Edison Electric Light Company. The Edison Electric Light Company first produced power for New York companies in September 1882, but did not charge until January 1883. Edison Electric Light Company merged with Thomas-Houston Electric Company in 1892, to form the General Electric Company (GE).

The $1 Edison banknote (lot 232 in the Treasures from the Caren Archive: How History Unfolds on Paper Sale) helped launch Edison and General Electric and is a significant piece of numismatic history. Presale estimates for the note range from $8,000 to $12,000.


About Eric C. Caren

In the 1960s, Eric C. Caren, a leading dealer in historic collectibles, began one of the most important private archives of original and rare newspapers, manuscripts, photographs, posters, broadsides, postcards, and ephemera in the United States. His collection contains over one million pieces, including period printings of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Gettysburg Address. Virtually every important historical document from the 16th century to the founding of the computer age can be found in its archives.


About Bonhams

Bonhams is one of the world’s leading fine art auction houses. Established in 1793, the firm today operates out of a network of salesrooms in London, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles. Bonhams conducts some 400 annual sales through its sixty specialist departments. Among Bonhams many specialties is art, jewelry, and motor cars. Corporate website: www.bonhams.com.



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