Are Two Grand Watermelons or Just One Up for Grabs at the April 2013 Chicago Heritage Signature Currency Auction?

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The fabled “Grand Watermelon” is one of the classic rarities of the USA paper money hobby. Most known examples reside in official government collections, leaving a handful for private collectors to obtain. In 2006, Heritage Auctions brokered the world record setting sale price for a single piece of United States currency at a staggering $2,255,000 between two high-end collectors. The specific note was Fr. 379b 1890 $1000 Treasury or Coin Note with signatures of Rosecrans-Nebeker.

We received Heritage Auctions’ April 2013 Chicago Signature Currency Auction #3522 email flyer today. The auction takes place between April 24-26, 2013 and April 28, 2013. To our amazement, we saw what initially appeared to be the obverses of NOT one, but TWO Grand Watermelons for sale! Wow, talk about unloading the big guns from your collection!

After the shock and awe gave way to a more sober mindset, it was became clear that only ONE of the Fr. 379 $1,000 Treasury or Coin Notes being offered later this month is a true “Grand Watermelon”. The other is actually a much rarer “Open back” variety from the series of 1891, and the opening bid is a hefty $1,200,0000. Heritage estimates plenty of action on this note, hoping for a closing of around $2,000,000.

For most folks, seeing an authentic Grand Watermelon in person is a once in a lifetime event, let alone having the opportunity to own one. Their prohibitively expensive price tag is beyond the reach all but the most well financed collectors. So the question for most people isn’t “How much?” but “When will we see these notes again, if ever?”.

The latter of these questions is definitely the most interesting. In 2006, Heritage set the world record price for sale of a single piece of United States currency, $2, 255,000 for Fr. 379b 190 $1,000 Treasury or Coin Note, signatures of Rosecrans-Nebeker grading at PMG Very Fine 35. This incredible record has yet to be matched. Here’s the record setting note:

Fr. 379b 1890 $1000 Treasury or Coin Note,
Fr. 379b 1890 $1000 Treasury or Coin Note, “Grand Watermelon” Rosecrans-Nebeker PMG Very Fine 35 – World Record Sale Value of $2,255,000 2006 – Obverse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fr. 379b 1890 $1000 Treasury or Coin Note, “Grand Watermelon” Rosecrans-Nebeker PMG Very Fine 35 – World Record Sale Value of $2,255,000 2006 – Reverse

Later this month, the note that everyone will be watching – with record breaking potential – will be Fr. 379c 1891 $1,000 Treasury or Coin Note, signatures of Tillman-Morgan. Here’s the note as it appears in the online auction catalog:

Fr. 379c 1891 $1000 Treasury or Coin Note, “Open Back” Tillman-Morgan PCGS Extremely Fine 45 PPQ – Bidding starts at $1,200,000 – Obverse

From Heritage’s Auction Lot Description:

“Only two examples of this design-type are known to exist. The first is this note, whose pedigree lists most of the important names in the history of US currency collecting. It was in the 1944 Barney Bluestone sale of the Grinnell Collection, then to Robert Friedberg, then to Amon Carter, Jr., ¬†followed by Jim Thompson, then on to Dean Oakes who sold it to Dr. Edward and Joanne Dauer (the only collectors who ever formed a complete collection of all known U.S. type notes), and finally to the Greensboro Collection. The second existing example has a much simpler history. It has resided in the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution since it was transferred there by the Treasury Department.”

As you can see, this is the ONLY EXAMPLE available to the public at this time, which is why a $2,000,000 final hammer price could be a conservative estimate. The other Fr. 379 up for sale is Fr. 379a 1890 $1,000 Treasury or Coin Note, signatures of Rosecrans-Huston, one of two available to collectors, with a total of five known. Of this small population, this note has the lowest serial number.

Fr. 379a 1890 $1000 Treasury or Coin Note,
Fr. 379a 1890 $1000 Treasury or Coin Note, “Grand Watermelon” Rosecrans-Huston PCGS Extremely Fine 45 Apparent – Bidding starts at $750,000 – Obverse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fr. 379a 1890 $1000 Treasury or Coin Note, “Grand Watermelon” Rosecrans-Huston PCGS Extremely Fine 45 Apparent – Bidding starts at $750,000 – Reverse

From Heritage’s Auction Lot Description:

“This example, which has the lowest serial number of the five known pieces, is one of two available to collectors. The second privately held example is the Limpert, Friedberg, and Krause-Lemke illustration piece. It was previously owned by F.C.C. Boyd, James Wade, Robert Friedberg, and Amon Carter, Jr. and was sold to its current owner at public auction in October 2005 for $1,092,500…the first note to break the seven figure mark. The currently offered example made its first public appearance in Harmer-Rooke’s 1969 Million Dollar sale. It then reappeared in 1983 in the H.I.M. sale at the Memphis show. Since then it had been in an east coast private collection until it was sold privately into the Greensboro Collection.”

So it looks like the Greensboro Collection is liquidating its Fr. 379s! Wow, imagine selling off these two behemoths at the same auction. It will be a thrilling evening and hopefully profitable for the Greensboro collectors that have safeguarded these numismatic treasures for years.

Don’t have $2,000,000 to spare? No problem: Heritage Auctions’ April 2013 Chicago Signature Currency Auction has many very affordable notes with great investment potential. Browse the catalog for further details.

PaperMoneyAuction.com was not paid or otherwise compensated for this article about Fr. 379 note types up for sale at the end of April 2013 in Chicago. This article is for news and entertainment purposes only. Anyone interested in these or other notes available at the Chicago Signature Currency Auction #3522 event should visit this link – click here.

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