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    Description

    Exceedingly Rare and Historic 1740 Boston, Massachusetts Silver Bank Note
    Ex: F.C.C. Boyd Collection

    Massachusetts Isaac Winslow Merchant or Order, Boston Silver Bank August 1, 1740 2 Shillings 6 Pence (60gr.) Fr. MA-87.1 PMG Very Fine 30 Net.
    The Colonial bills of credit are important antecedents of all American paper currency. It was natural for Mike Coltrane to include some in his collection because of this key context. All notes from this historic Massachusetts series are exceedingly rare or unique. They more often than not have prestigious provenances. In this case, F.C.C. Boyd is part of the pedigree chain. He acquired many of his notes directly from Henry Chapman, who was dispersing Colonial notes from the John Haseltine collection, in the first half of the 20th century. The "Silver Bank" issue itself is a fascinating reminder of the evolution of American paper currency that eventually created the paper money we use today. United States Silver Certificates issued by the Federal government owe some credit to this specie-backed private "scheme."

    By 1740, Bills of Credit emitted by the colonies were a fact of Colonial life as was the financial uncertainty that went along with paper money. Notes were counterfeited, raised and altered, all in a manner to defraud the public. The British Crown looked upon this independent activity of emitting paper money as treasonous and saw Colonial independent aspirations in a different light than earlier in the century. The Silver Bank bills were one of three different "private" schemes to take advantage of a void in commerce caused by a lack of new government Bills of Credit. The investors saw potential for profit and were not necessarily civic-minded. The Silver Bank numbered 107 members with Isaac Winslow leading the group; his name is engraved in the obligation and countersigned on the verso of emitted notes. There were rival schemes, especially the (Land) Bank Bills, that vied for official recognition. The Silver Bank, due to its specie nature, paid off most of its obligations when the Crown enforced the "Bubble Act" on this Colonial activity. This was in contrast to the Land Bank whose liberal activities lingered on for many years past their dissolution and negatively impacted their investors. The "bank" schemes helped usher in the 25-year hiatus of Massachusetts note-issuing from 1750 to 1775 with the introduction of Revere's copperplate notes.

    This "Tall" bill style is printed on laid paper, with a partially visible fleur-de-lis watermark, from a well-engraved plate. The detailed obligation is in the center cartouche. At the lower left is a charming folk image of a wharf scene with sailboats and three men in a dinghy; the motto FIAT JUSTIA (Let there be Justice) is on a ribbon below. The top has fancy engraved filigree details. It is fully issued, with the "Isaac Winslow" countersignature on the blank back. Bright and attractive, the note squares off quite well and is very sharply printed. This was easily the finest of three Boyd Collection notes and realized $11,500 when last auctioned in May 2005. Noted with "Tape Repairs, Previously Mounted" by PMG. Those restorations were done long ago. Ex: Stack's May 2004 Ford Part III sale, lot 519; F.C.C. Boyd Collection. Notes from the Silver Bank have attracted attention at auction. The Eric Newman Collection only had one genuine denomination (the 5 shillings is known as a contemporary counterfeit), 7 shillings 6 pence in much lesser condition than the present example. The finest 1740 Silver Bank note was sold in Stack's November 2008 sale. That uncertified Minot Collection pedigreed "Very Fine" 20 shillings realized $23,000 in enthusiastic bidding. The imperfections are easily forgiven considering the immense rarity and historic context this note has in the future development of United States paper money. This sale presents a rare opportunity to acquire a museum-caliber, early Colonial note.
    From The Mike Coltrane Collection.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2020
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
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