Bits & Pieces... by David Sundman

Rare and Famous Notes

A collector's dream – If we only had a time machine we could travel back to this vault (circa 1907) located on the east side of the Cash Room in the U.S. Treasury. Notice the 3 large-size framed notes above the cashier's head which we've enlarged in the foreground. They're ultra, ultra rare now. (Yet the cashier works on indifferently.) The top note is a $10,000 Legal Tender Note (FR189 design), unknown today. Below is a $10,000 Gold Certificate (FR1223). The bulk of this series is either unknown or the later issues, extremely rare. The bottom note is a $5,000 Gold Certificate, of which only two are known. Each of these large-size notes would bring nearly a million dollars at auction today.

The famous 1899 Black Eagle Silver Certificate and more!

Also, notice the $1 bills in his hands. They're the famous 1899 Black Eagle Silver Certificate – 4,000 notes to a pack! Look to the right of the cashier, see the stacks of boxes with a big “20” overprint? These are the $20 Gold Certificates with Washington on the face. Plus, there are bags of Morgan dollars on the cart – just imagine searching through a few of those…! According to an 1876 description the vaults off the cash room usually held $10,000,000, including gold coins. The description continues: “The money is kept in packages or bags in the wooden cases. Near the door of the vault is an elevator used for conveying money between the vaults and express office immediately below. As much as $5,000,000 have been shipped to different sub-treasuries in a single day.” Although we can never go back and visit the vaults and Cash Room, it's nice to imagine, and makes you wonder what future collectors will think about as they look at modern photographs of our Treasury and Mints.