||Morrisania, NY - Morrisania Bank $1 (One Unit) No Date (Ca. 1853) NY-1395 G2a. Essay Proof. PCGS Very Choice New 64. The Morrisania Bank "One" Proofs engraved and printed by Waterman Lily Ormsby's firm have been the subject of many discussions for decades. New York State specialists once argued that it was not a "banknote" and should not be classified as having an actual location. This debate was mostly debunked when Haxby listed the bank in his four-volume opus. Further corroboration was provided when the most meticulous New York Obsolete collector, the architect of the White Oak Collection (sold by Stack's in March 2009), placed an example in his collection; representing the Bronx borough, it completed the five-borough representation within his sophisticated cabinet. The Morrisania proof speaks for itself though, and this is a magnificent example, proofed upon an extremely wide margined sheet-sized card and creating a superb impression with deep plate lines all around. This is a museum piece, and was so at the downtown Newman Money Museum that displayed many of Eric P. Newman's Obsolete note treasures. The proof is printed on India paper, within the extremely large card, having the complete imprint of W.L. Ormsby, New-York 50 Wall Street at the upper left. This is Type II, following the Haxby listings, with very light gray ONE across the note. A furiouso plate vignette in classic W. L. Ormsby style is across the entire note. At center is an ethereal floating trio showing America in the center, between Mercury and Plenty. The title curves above, and two ONE curving denominations are across the bottom center. At lower left is the required New York Bank Seal. At the far bottom right is very small patent application text. The ends, with textual ONE protectors. Virtually unnoticed are the cited "Cut Cancelled" across the signatures. The Morrisania Bank proofs are shrouded in mystery, but have been part of the focus of Dave Bowers' strong interest in Ormsby. The workmanship has all the features of a sample advertising piece by Ormsby for contract work proposals. However, the vignette structure seen here was also used on the Carroll County Bank, New Hampshire notes engraved and printed by him. Over a decade ago, after the Schingoethe Part I note was sold (Lot 1923, later Stack's White Oak Collection, Lot 7211), the case was made that this was not only an organized bank, but also a Bronx bank. It was then sold at the distinguished White Oak New York Obsolete collection (as one of very few proofs, the rest all issued notes), as representing the Bronx borough. The White Oak note had a pencil notation on the card verso, "19 TM 67/O" a pedigree mark showing it was part of the Thomas F. Morris Estate. A former Bureau of Engraving and Printing craftsman, Morris lived in the Bronx and also shared part of his name (coincidently) with the bank's title. Involved research into this note may or may not find out the complete information regarding the note's origins. Unquestionable though, is its magnificence and rarity. The 52 Collection Part I sale (Lot 5571) proof cited was slightly different, without imprint or "ONE" going across. This type is superior, and especially so on its complete, wide card. The upper back corner pencil code "KH" and price of "1.50" would have been written a long, long time ago. This proof, worthy of continued admiration and study, this is simply magnificent. Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
Realized $6,462.50. Newman VI (Heritage Auctions, 4/2015), lot 19249. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.