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    Perfectly Original and Vividly Colored "Watermelon" $100

    Fr. 377 $100 1890 Treasury Note PCGS Very Fine 30PPQ.
    One of our favorite examples of the iconic "Watermelon" notes to pass through our auctions, this example graces the pages of our first Newman currency offering. It was described, "United States Treasury Notes were born of failed monetary policy that favored Western constituencies, specifically silver miners. Silver was demonetized in the Coinage Law of 1873, a move by Congress in favor of the Gold Standard. Unfortunately the timing was poor as a depression in Europe was sinking its claws into the American economy. Falling silver prices forced Western senators to take action, advocating for the silver miners who were an important part of their quickly growing economies. Congressman Richard P. Bland and Senator William A. Allison proposed the Bland-Allison Act of 1878. In addition to calling for the Double Standard, it also called for between $2 and $4 million worth of silver to be purchased by the Treasury each month. Both Morgan Dollars and Silver Certificates resulted from this act as it called for the silver to be placed into circulation. Either the coins, or Silver Certificates backed by Treasury holdings, would be issued. Since the law called for excess silver purchases beyond the needs of the public, the vaults at the Treasury began to fill up with Morgan Dollars. By 1889, the surplus was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. President Benjamin Harrison mentioned in his annual address that $283,539,521 in silver dollars sat in the vaults, and more than $6 million of it was not represented by Silver Certificates. At that time, silver was worth around 70 cents per ounce, but special interests pushed even harder. The introduction of the Windom Silver Bullion Purchase Act in the House was an attempt to remove all restrictions on the purchase and coining of silver. The act passed on July 14, 1890, called for greatly increased limits as well as introducing the issue of Treasury Notes. The increase allowed for the purchase of up to 4.5 million ounces of silver each month, or if that quantity was not available, whatever was on the market. It also introduced Treasury Notes in form of payment for the purchases in denominations of not less than $1 and not more than $1,000. Though the notes were introduced to back silver purchases, they were redeemable for both gold and silver specie. As such, they earned the nickname "Coin Notes." The Act doubled the amount of silver purchased by the government each month. The technical change to Treasury Notes in the act proved fatal for silver. The notes were redeemable in both gold and silver and with silver far below par, the public would naturally choose gold when redeeming their notes. James Nelson Huston, the Treasurer at the time, was a steadfast Republican and hardly the fiscal conservative. The law allowed him to cease the issuance of the largest denomination Silver Certificates, the $500 and $1000, in favor of Treasury Notes. The favored status of the Treasury Notes was evidenced by increased redemption rates. Logically, the favored status of Treasury Notes by those hoarding cash provided for a slightly larger survival rate to date than silver certificates. But the original number of notes issued was quite small, especially for the largest denominations. For the $100, only 120,000 notes were printed, and today a mere 35 survivors are known to collectors. Eight of those notes are permanently housed in institutional collections, prized holdings due in part to the rarity, but just as importantly, the design. The back of the $100 and $1,000 Treasury Notes shows the denomination engraved in large digits and finely detailed. The zeros in the number printed in green resemble watermelons. Eric's note has long been recorded in the census of survivors, but this is the first time it has been offered at auction to the collecting community. As one of the most coveted designs in American currency, these notes were highly sought after by early collectors, and notes with problems were almost always improved. Remarkably, this example is one of the few that survived circulation with just a moderate amount of wear and not a single hint of a problem. The paper is fresh, with bold printed colors and full margins. The green ink on the back is vibrant and unbroken by the few folds that account for the grade. With stunning originality and a coveted pedigree, this newest opportunity will definitely spark spirited bidding." We expect the same volley of bids this evening, with the price to easily reach and possibly sail past...
    From the Art Davidson Collection


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    3rd-9th Wednesday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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