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Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio   |   The August 2018 ANA Auction   |   23 August 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Session 4, Lot 2007

Estimate: 70'000 USD   |   Starting price: 42'000 USD Price realized: 96'000 USD
Legal Tender Notes
The First $2 Note Issued by the Federal Government

Friedberg 41b (W-303). 1862 $2 Legal Tender Note. PCGS Currency Very Good 8.
For the second time in a decade Stack's Bowers Galleries has the honor of presenting the very first $2 Legal Tender bill issued by the federal government. This Fr.41b 1862 $2 Legal Tender Note is the serial number 1 note from Series 1 of the very first issuance of $2 Legal Tender Notes. The type is familiar with the side profile of Alexander Hamilton facing right to the left of center, large counters in the top corners and green protectors to the lower left and right. The overprints are in red with solitary 1s printed boldly in the lower left and to the upper right of center. The type 1 Treasury Seal is below the right serial number and has faded somewhat with circulation on this example. The back design is elaborate with large counters in the corners and the obligation at center encircled with tiny repeating die counters. The numismatic history of this note is traced back to at least 1971 when Abe Hepner exhibited it at the American Numismatic Association annual summer convention. The note was sold in the October 2000 R.M. Smythe auction for $137,500. It was most recently acquired by Joel Anderson from our March 2011 Baltimore Coin & Collectibles Expo auction for $86,250.

The note was clearly kept as a wallet piece for quite some time. The paper is worn but the engraved design elements all remain quite bold. There are minor edge nicks in the margins but nothing major or worthy of singling out. Some wallet staining is visible primarily from the back of the note. It is a solid note for the grade.

Few notes so important reside in private collections. The next owner of this note will possess a truly museum quality piece for which there is no equal, one of the greatest treasures in American paper money -- a combination of rarity and history.

$2 Legal Tender Notes, Series of 1862

The first $2 bills are Legal Tender Notes, part of the "greenback" issues launched in 1862. The face, back, and tint plates for the $2 Series of 1862 Legal Tender Notes were engraved by the National Bank Note Company. Printing was shared by both the American and National Bank Note companies. Treasury signatures of Chittenden and Spinner were printed on the face by using a separate plate and a special ink.

On the face is the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, engraved by Joseph P. Ourdan. Two imprint versions of the American and National Bank Note companies are found. Similar to the $1 notes of this series, at the bottom center is a 1-2-3 design, with the particular denomination to be highlighted with a drop-out white background, in this case a 2 (the $3 was considered but none were ever printed). All have a small red Treasury Seal with spiked border (applied by the National Currency Bureau in Washington). There are two patent imprints, 1860 at lower left and 1857 at center right, the latter referring to an American Bank Note Company patent for the green color, intended to deter counterfeiting.

The back is printed in green and has denomination and redemption information. The last is the so-called Second Obligation: "This note is a Legal Tender for all debts public and private, except for duties on imports and interest on the public debt, and is receivable in payment of all loans made to the United States."

PCGS Population: 1, none finer.
From Abe Hepner; R.M. Smythe's sale of October 2000, lot 1239; R.M. Smythe's sale of July 2007, lot 4655; Stack's Bowers Galleries' sale of April 2011, lot 5339.

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