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HomePaper MoneyQ. David Bowers - Focus on a $1,000 "Trophy Note"

Q. David Bowers – Focus on a $1,000 “Trophy Note”

By Q. David BowersCo-founder, Stack’s Bowers ……
United States 1000 Dollars - Joel R. Anderson Collection - Stack's Bowers

One of the pleasures in my life as a professional numismatist is having the opportunity to work with and catalog outstanding collections. In recent times I have been immersed in the Joel R. Anderson Collection of large-size paper money by design types. Over many years of connoisseurship, patience, and study, supported by a generous budget, Joel assembled a collection that is unique for its combination of rarity and completeness with high quality. It reminds me of the D. Brent Pogue Collection of coins we showcased from 2015 to 2017.

As a collection by design types, by definition the Anderson Collection has affordable notes as well as extreme rarities. This week I showcase a finest of the fine, rarest of the rare note. Here is part of the catalog description:

Choice About New 58 1863 $1000 Legal Tender Note. Finest Graded Example of the Type. Friedberg-186d (Whitman-4496). 1863 $1,000 Legal Tender Note. PCGS Choice About New 58.

This is not only one of the greatest highlights in the Joel R. Anderson Collection, it is also one of the greatest treasures in American numismatics. Just four examples of the 1862- and 1863-dated $1,000 Legal Tender Notes are known to collectors, with only two in private hands, this being the finest graded.

The note is amply margined with just a hardly noticeable single corner fold at bottom left keeping it from a full Uncirculated grade. The distinctly federal face design features the portrait of Founding Father and Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris at center. Morris is framed by a circle of small die counter 1,000s in green. Large die counters flank the face at upper left and right. Sharply printed green security panels are overlapped by the denomination to either side of Morris’ portrait. The red printed Treasury Seal is boldly inked at upper left while the serial number 99202 is found above.

Original embossing is easily observed from the back of the note. That ornately printed side features 1,000 counters on their side to left and right while the obligation is found in an oval frame at center.

This monumentally important note has resided in the notable collections of Amon Carter, Frank Levitan, and now Joel R. Anderson. One fortunate bidder will be able to add their name to that list once the hammer falls on this great American currency rarity.

Further: As noted above, at the center is a portrait of Robert Morris, facing forward, engraved by Charles Schlecht, surrounded by a green frame. To the left and right is the denomination spelled out against a green background, with additional counters at the upper left and right. The imprint of the American Bank Note Co. is in drop-out white.

The face, back, and tint plates for the $1,000 Series of 1862 and 1863 Legal Tender Notes were engraved by the American Bank Note Company. The American and National Bank Note companies shared the printing for the Second Obligation notes. Treasury signatures of Chittenden and Spinner were printed on the face by using a separate plate and special ink. All have a small red Treasury Seal. On the back the denomination is oriented vertically and the Second Obligation is in an ellipse at the center.

Most such high-denomination notes were used in bank-to-bank transfers and other large exchanges, not carried around by the public. There were some exceptions, including one described in an account of a passenger who perished when SS Brother Jonathan hit a rock and sank off Crescent City, California, on July 30, 1865.

“The body of a female passenger was found, with “one $1,000 Legal Tender Note; five $20 do.; seven $10 do.; two $100 do.; five $50 do.; one $5 National currency note on the National Bank of Poughkeepsie, New York—in all $1,625…”

Details can be found in the book, The Treasure Ship S.S. Brother Jonathan (1999).

–Dave Bowers


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