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Unique 1896 “Educational” Banknotes To Cross The Block At Stack’s Bowers World’s Fair Of Money Auction

The first sheets for the series. Serial numbers 1-4, $1, $2, $5 PMG About Uncirculated 55
America’s Most Famous and Most Ornate Designs
Ex Harry W. Bass, Jr.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries will showcase the “Educational Note” sheets pedigreed to The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection in its official auction with the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money. The group comprises three original sheets: the 1896 Silver Certificate “Educational Notes” of the $1, $2, and $5, each with serial numbers 1 to 4. The firm auctioned the group several years ago for the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation, and is honored to present it once again on behalf of its new owner.

The face designs are perhaps the most ornate in the entire series of American paper money. They include the $1 History Instructing Youth, the $2 Science Presenting Steam and Electricity to Industry and Commerce, and the $5 Electricity Presenting Light to the World. The backs are very ornate as well. Each design ranks high in the best-selling book The 100 Greatest American Currency Notes (Whitman Publishing, LLC.) by Q. David Bowers and David M. Sundman.


This set was considered by Bass to be one of the highlights of his currency collection. While the archives of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing probably contain many unusual specimens, die proofs, essays and other rarities, usually with no serial numbers or a string of serial numbers, such unusual items rarely are available to collectors. This particular item falls into an even more intriguing category, as the banknotes were produced for regular circulation and are the very first serially numbered.

The bound folio accompanying the notes is titled UNITED STATES PROOF BANK NOTES ISSUED 1896. It includes a typewritten, three-page letter of description and presentation by Claude M. Johnson, head of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, who had the forethought to purchase the original sheets for himself, and thus, saved them for posterity. Each of the three separate bank note sheets contain four subjects of the represented denomination with serial numbers 1 to 4. The sheets have been professionally removed from the book, graded AU-55 and encapsulated by Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) to protect and preserve quality.

From the content of Johnson’s letter, it is clear that he understood very well the significance of the pieces he owned. The sheets have become much more than the first of the Educationals — they are a monument of history, design and the developmental process. Easily one of the most sought after American paper currency items ever offered for public auction sale, this set will be a highlight of any great paper money collection. The illustrious provenance and pedigree chain will have as its new member, the successful bidder when the hammer falls.

The notes will be on display at several upcoming conventions, including the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, and the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction of the ANA World’s Fair of Money. For more information, please contact Stack’s Bowers Galleries at 800.458.4646 (West Coast), 800.566.2580 (East Coast), or visit StacksBowers.com.

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Stack's Bowers
Stack's Bowershttps://stacksbowers.com/
Stack's Bowers Galleries conducts live, internet, and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company's 90-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — The D. Brent Pogue Collection, The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, The Joel R. Anderson Collection, The Norweb Collection, The Cardinal Collection, The Sydney F. Martin Collection, and The Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include The Pinnacle Collection, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection of World Gold Coins, The Kroisos Collection, The Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, The Salton Collection, The Wa She Wong Collection, and The Thos. H. Law Collection. The company is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California with galleries in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Offices are also located in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Hong Kong, Paris, and Vancouver.

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