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    Description

    A High Quality Collection of Forty-five Different Macerated Pieces

    A Collection of Forty-five Different Macerated Currency Objects.
    Paper Currency in the United States came into general use right at the beginning of the Civil War in the spring and summer of 1861. After several years of heavy usage, it became apparent that the Treasury Department needed a method of destroying old paper money that was no longer fit for circulation. Initially the old notes were burned in a special furnace located in the vacant lot behind the White House that was called the "White Lot." Because the bills needed to be traced, counted, and carefully transported, they were sorted and bundled before burning. Burning bundles of notes completely proved to be nearly impossible, and large, partially burned pieces escaped through the chimney. It did not take long for a small army of individuals to start scouring the lot for large fragments that were big enough to redeem at the Treasury as accidentally burnt currency. Moving at normal governmental speed, it took until 1874 to develop a better method for destroying old bills. That method was called maceration, where a large machine in the sub-basement of the Treasury would thoroughly grind up the paper money while wet, turning it into pulp. Tourists were permitted to watch the process and it became a highlight for visitors to Washington. Initially the pulp was simply dumped until some individual, long lost to history, hit upon the idea of reforming the pulp into small souvenirs. By 1875 these souvenirs were being sold to the general public through shops. The souvenirs caught on, and by the turn of the century there were more than thirty "Remembrance Shops," "Souvenir Stores," and street side "Memento Stands" in the areas of Washington, DC most heavily traveled by tourists. Among the most popular and numerous items were Uncle Sam-style hats, ladies shoes, pitchers, Washington Monuments, postcards, buildings, and busts of famous people. Most were in the two-to-five inch range. There were dozens of manufacturers, some identified by labels on the bottom of the souvenirs and many of them anonymous. Many of the macerated souvenirs had labels stating something along the lines of: "Made from $2000 (or $3000, or $5000, etc.) in U.S. Currency Destroyed by the Treasury Department". Initially, visible pieces of currency could be seen in the souvenirs; but in 1908 chemicals were added to the new macerating machine to turn the notes into gooey, gray pulp with no traces of ink or paper pieces. The business of producing macerated souvenirs continued, but without identifiable pieces of currency visible, the public lost interest. Some macerated items were still produced into the late 1920s, but that seems to have been the end. Pre and post-1908 pieces are easily distinguishable by the presence or lack of currency bits. This collection is free of duplicates and includes several much rarer objects including a five-inch-by-five-inch bulldog head, a seven-and-a-half-inch Washington monument, a seven-inch-tall bust of Confederate Cavalry General Fitzhugh Lee nephew of Robert E. Lee. 1905 souvenir volume of the Washington meeting of the American Bankers Association which contains a seven-and-a-half-by-ten-and-a-half-inch macerated title page. Only a handful of these books are known to have survived intact, and this is an essentially mark-free copy save for minor wear to the cover. There is also a large frog three inches high and five inches long, three rarer presidents - Garfield, McKinley, and Coolidge, a six-and-a-half-inch tall U. S. Grant, four different Lincolns including a seven-inch-tall bust, four different Washingtons that includes a six-and-a-half-inch-tall bust, four totally different boots and shoes, two different postcards, one of them postal used in 1906, two different three-and-a-half-inch round capitol building plaques in exceptional condition, a "Souvenir of Washington, DC" nine-inch axe, a bale of macerated with a view of the White House on top, and two different Washington monuments including one at the bottom wholly covered by a label explaining both macerated and the monument itself. There was also a seven-inch eagle with its original red, white, and blue ribbon' a "Spirit of St. Louis" airplane, three different hats, four different caps, four different pitchers, a free standing Capitol building and Liberty Bell. Many of these would sell individually for several hundred dollars, with the least of them (cats, hats, shoes, and vases) typically wholesaling in the $50 range. A collection of this scope could take decades to assemble. Condition overall is exceptional, with only two of three pieces showing minor repairs. Additionally, well more than half the pieces have their original full labels, with many others showing partial labels. (Total: 45 items)


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2016
    6th-12th Wednesday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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