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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 2051

Estimate: 300'000 USD   |   Starting price: 180'000 USD Price realized: 552'000 USD
Gold Certificates
Incredible Serial Number 1 "Technicolor" $20 Gold Certificate
Presented to President Theodore Roosevelt
Friedberg 1179 (W-2225). 1905 $20 Gold Certificate. PCGS Currency Gem New 65 PPQ.
This is an incredible serial number 1 1905 $20 "Technicolor" Gold Certificate with a provenance that traces all the way back to the White House. It has a unique history with the Theodore Roosevelt connection, combined with incredible rarity as the serial number 1 note. Beyond this, the numismatic fame of the "Technicolor" Note is everlasting.

It is the Fr. 1179 Lyons-Roberts signed variety (the first of two signature combinations for the type), and the very first $20 "Technicolor" printed and issued. These Series of 1905 Gold Certificates have a portrait of George Washington, engraved by Alfred Sealey, and a bright red scalloped Treasury Seal and serial numbers. The field is gold in color and includes a $20 emblem at left. The vibrant tints and overprint featured on this type explain the "Technicolor" nickname, by which these notes are so well known. The back displays the Heraldic Eagle of the Great Seal of the United States at the center and has ornately engraved borders. The entire back design, engraved by Robert Ponickau, is executed in orange-gold.

This note first appeared in Barney Bluestone's March 1945 offering of the Albert A. Grinnell Collection, where it was partially described as: "one of the most attractive notes ever issued by our government. The beautiful lathe work comprising the frame design surrounds the rich yellow field in the center of which appears the dignified portrait of Washington. Above center is '20' in yellow and below the portrait, the words 'In Gold Coin' also printed in rich yellow. The color contrast effects present a picture comparable to a magnificent painting and must be seen to be fully appreciated. This colorful beauty is an absolutely perfect, Crisp, Unc."

Bluestone, based in Syracuse, New York, entered the auction business in the 1930s and handled many rarities. His catalogs are so elusive today that the items he handled have never been carefully studied.

Grinnell was a partner in the Grinnell Brothers chain of music stores based in Detroit, each with a showroom of pianos, musical instruments, sheet music, phonographs, radios and other items. Albert was alone in his study and pursuit of federal paper money, without much if any studied competition (Col. E.H.R. Green hoarded paper but did not study it).

A worth successor to Grinnell's passion was Amon Carter, Sr., followed by his son, Amon Jr.

The "Technicolor" nickname was applied years later with it being the name of a film process developed in the 1930s.

Indeed few types in American paper money rival this in terms of aesthetic appeal. The presently offered piece offers an idyllic level of preservation with excellent centering and abundant margins. The colors are vibrant, as should be expected from the first note to roll off of the press. The all important serial number 1s are boldly inked and seen with punch through embossing. This note is a true Gem in every sense of the word, a numismatic treasure, a bona fide trophy note that will be a centerpiece in any collection it enters.

Research tells us that this very note was the presentation piece given to President Theodore Roosevelt by then Secretary of the Treasury Leslie Mortimer Shaw. While it had long been rumored that this note had been part of Roosevelt's personal holdings, that fact can be confirmed by a handwritten note which accompanied the sale of the serial number 3 example in 2005. The note reads "Mr. Shaw, Secy. of Treasury during Theodore Roosevelt's administration, gave to the president, No. 1 of this series, No. 2 to himself & No. 3 to Gilbert G. Thorne, of $20 gold notes issued at that time."

President Roosevelt's interest in America's circulating currency is well documented. He worked closely with sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens on redesigns of the country's $10 and $20 gold coins which were minted from 1907 to 1933. It is no stretch to think Roosevelt may have had some influence on the creation of this stunning $20 Gold Certificate. The Roosevelt connection has gone unmentioned in all previous auction appearances of this note that we can trace.

If there is one "Trophy Note" that will be the centerpiece of the greatest private or museum collection of paper money, this is it!

PCGS Population: 1, none finer.
From Barney Bluestone's sale of the Albert A. Grinnell Collection, March 1945, lot 751; William Donlon Numismatist Ad of October 1964; Currency Auctions of America's sale of May 2001, lot 1373; Heritage Auctions' sale of February 2005, lot 16797.

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