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Landmark Gem 1861 $5 Demand Note in Spring Whitman Auction

Landmark Gem 1861 $5 Demand Note in Stack's Bowers Spring Whitman Auction

By Christopher DahnckeCurrency Auction Associate, Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
Stack’s Bowers Galleries is pleased to offer bidders the opportunity to acquire a Fr. 2 1861 $5 Demand Note graded Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ by PMG in the upcoming Spring Baltimore sale. This is an exceptionally lovely note for any large-size type, but as a Demand Note, it is arguably among the most important survivors in all federal currency.

Though the original issue of Demand Notes was rather substantial, their tenure as the lone federal paper currency was very short. Within two years of their debut, nearly 95% of all Demand Notes had been redeemed. As a result, Demand Notes are very scarce today, with the vast majority being of the $5 denomination. All were printed on relatively thin paper that was more fragile than should have been used for circulating currency. As a result, the notes did not wear well. Because they could be exchanged at par for gold coins, those that remained in circulation traded for a premium over other federal currency issues that appeared in 1862, and they were readily accepted. Still, most were redeemed.

At the time, redeeming all the Demand Notes for the gold they represented would have made the most economic sense. This clearly didn’t happen. We must assume today that the few survivors were simply forgotten, temporarily lost, or saved as curiosities by those who could afford to do so. Whatever the reason this note was saved, it was clearly well cared for by all who have handled it since the day it was issued.

The aesthetic quality of this note would be hard to overstate. The white paper is bright and fresh with no discolorations, handling smudges, or foxing spots. The inks are bright and vivid on both sides, with the ornate back being particularly striking, qualifying as an ideal representative of the first “greenback” type. Indeed, PMG has noted on the holder that the note has exceptional color and embossing in addition to the EPQ designation. The face margins are complete, although tight as is typical due to the narrow spaces between notes on the sheet. In no place is the border design compromised. On the back, the margins are broad and even. The corner points are sharp and the fine, penned signatures of those authorized to sign for the Register and Treasurer are clear, with no ink burn or associated defects of any kind.

We last sold this note in our March 2018 Baltimore sale as part of the illustrious A.J. Vanderbilt Collection. Track & Price affirms that this note is the only Gem to have sold for the Friedberg number, and any top tier collector seeking the best of the best material should be impatient to acquire this landmark note. It will be a centerpiece in any collection that includes it. PMG Pop 1/None Finer.

We are currently taking consignments for our August 2023 Global Showcase Auction and our monthly Collectors Choice Online (CCO) sales. To consign your U.S. paper money and world paper money to a future sale, 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 your inquiry to [email protected].

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