||Richmond, VA - Commonwealth of Virginia-Virginia Treasury Note $500 October 15, 1864 [1?] Cr. 1861-B Jones & Littlefield VT02-04. PCGS Extremely Fine 40 Apparent. The $500 Virginia Treasury Note from the Newman Collection is the discovery note, first cited in an advertisement in the September 1918 issue of The Numismatist, in which A. Atlas Leve offered it for $50.00. Offered here for the first time at public auction, is this undisputed monarch of all Southern States Civil War era notes. Appropriately, this note is featured on the front cover of Hugh Shull's recent revision of the Southern States currency guide book and plated in the body of that reference. Although not perfectly preserved, this note is a true highlight from the entire Eric P. Newman Collection. The Civil War figures prominently in the history of the state of Virginia. More battles were fought on its soil than in any other state; the capital at Richmond was the location of countless political events; and the final surrender of Lee to Grant took place at the Appomattox Courthouse. Financial historians and numismatists have collected and studied the banknotes and bonds from Virginia with great enthusiasm. Hoyer & Ludwig printed notes and bonds for the Confederacy, State and private entities before Richmond fell to Union in April 1865, surrendering shortly thereafter. The Virginia Treasury Notes were printed from several enactments with notes dated 1861 and 1862. The initial 1861 notes were authorized from the Act of April 30, 1861 ($3,000,000 in 6% notes, to be printed in not less than $20 denominations) and June 28, 1861 ($4,000,000 combined in 6% notes, such as offered here, and interest-free $10 and less denominated notes to make change). The 1861 hand-dated 6% interest bearing notes were emitted first ($500, $100, $50, and $20) and followed later with the lesser denomination non-interest bearing notes. According to records, the State issued 6,150 $500 notes and recorded only 217 outstanding in 1863. However, between that time and the end of the war, the $500 denomination notes left outstanding may have been exchanged for something else like interest bearing bonds because, except for two, the notes just do not exist. The note is uniface, printed on bond paper by Hoyer & Ludwig, Richmond, VA with the imprint along the bottom right edge. A majestic design with the center dominated by full red lace details. Under the arced title, two female figures hold up a banner showing the obligation. The left female's head is obscured by her billowing garment. In the center of the tint is a white, outlined 500 protector. At the lower left are three allegorical females, Prosperity, Commerce and Navigation (adapted from Danforth, Bald & Co., New-York Obsolete notes). This well-known vignette was used on the Confederate 1861 Type 17 notes printed by Hoyer & Ludwig. Washington appears at upper right, and "500" dies are in the remaining opposite corners. The obligations, with the interest-bearing clause are across the center. The date is hand-written with the month, day and last digit of the year: "Octo 15", 186 "4."Although apparently a "4" as configured, it is unlike all other notes from the series seen, which have a penned straight "1" at the end. This anomaly might just be due to a peculiar hand, but these $500 notes were special and it is possible some were issued this late and numbered out of sequence, not an uncommon occurrence in hand numbered notes issues. The signatures are well accomplished compared to $100 and $50 notes known, and a noted Southern specialist has concurred. The serial No. 1002, appears once only at the serial block (as opposed to twice on the other verified example, the other number floating at the right field). Exceedingly rare and important. Unknown to William West Bradbeer in 1915 when he published his Confederate and Southern States reference, the Criswell numbering system that was created much later from his listings assigned a special number for this note type. From this first Hoyer & Ludwig series, the $100 and $50 notes are rare, but known, and usually encountered in Extremely Fine or better condition. The green tinted $20 notes are fairly common. Not so with the $500 Virginia Treasury Note, of which we have confirmed only two examples. 1. PCGS Extremely Fine 40 Apparent. The present example, serial number 1002 plate A. The Shull plate note. The Affleck 1968 Virginia Plate Note, Discovered by R.L. Deitrick, Lorraine, Virginia and first published in the September, 1918 edition of The Numismatist, offered on consignment at $50.00 by A. Atlas. Leve of Syracuse, New York; unknown intermediates; Eric. P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. 2. Grade Unverified. Serial 3029 (twice) plate A. Based on the photographic print in the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society archives, the appearance of Choice Extremely Fine or better. The Jones & Littlefield plate note. Discovered in 1974 according to Eric's annotation on the verso of the photo. This example, strongly held in the same collection for decades, supplied the plate note for the current Virginia and Criswell books. Its present location is unknown. Apparent, as cited by PCGS, with the noted "Backed; Edge Tears and Repairs; Paper Scuffs." Overall, this is uniformly toned on the card that has fortunately protected the integrity of the delicate paper. Penciled on the back of the card is "Only $500 VA Treas in existence/found by R.L. Deitrick/Lorraine, VA/May 10, 1918." Deitrick was a dealer who advertised in The Numismatist and published an early guide to pricing Confederate and Southern State notes. The note itself merits further diagnostic discussion. Is it a genuine issued note with valid signatures, with the serial number out of order, and a date intended to read "1861" rather than "1864"? Or is it a proof note on a card, with added signatures, serial number and date? Many specialists consider this an issued note with genuine signatures matching those on the $50 and $100 denominations, with the date discrepancy simply a slip of the hand. Richard Jones and Keith Littlefield do not cite this as a proof note in their updated and expanded Virginia book. It is no longer their plate note; they substituted the 1974 example with serial number 3029 for the earlier Affleck plate note. In Charles J. Affleck's The Obsolete Paper Money of Virginia, Vol. 1, 2nd edition, he deemed this a proof note with false signatures. The card used for this note is in character with a proof backing, and the impression and details on the toned paper are strongly defined. Regarding the signatures, it is possible that this note was used as a detector at the time of redemption. If an issued note, its rarity and condition make it very desirable. If a proof, it would be a unique proof, and one of the few Southern States and Confederate imprint proofs in existence. The note's overall integrity and merits are without question, and either scenario is positive. This miracle of survival is an exciting offering. A Southern States note of this stature and rarity has never sold at public auction. It has obviously been missing from virtually all of the greatest Southern collections. The highest recorded auction price for a Southern Criswell numbered note was for the unlisted Republic of Texas final series 25 cents Exchequer note, signed by Sam Houston, and sold at our 2011 FUN Auction for $63,250. This legendary Virginia note's historical significance is certainly comparable, and worthy of setting a new record for a Southern States note. This priceless, museum caliber masterpiece will become the central focus of the next cabinet it joins. When the hammer drops, the opportunity to bid upon this majestic note might not recur for another generation. Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
Realized $70,500.00. Newman VI (Heritage Auctions, 4/2015), lot 19378. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.