Mr. Ogden “Livingston” Mills, I presume? Fr. 1503 Star Worth the Trip to the Jungle

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You large sized currency types 🙂 have it easy: just buy anything bigger than what you see in your pocket 8) (Gotcha). Small sized currency lovers, however, have to be a bit more discerning. A brief “troll” through eBay’s currency listings will yield thousands of small sized notes: from 1934 $1 Silver Certificates and 1988A $100 Federal Reserve Notes, to 1934A $20 “Hawaii” Brown Seal Notes and 1928B $2 Legal Tenders. Question: rare or not rare? Mostly not rare, but there are exceptions to every rule when it comes to collecting elite specimens of United States Paper Money.

A couple weeks ago we dispelled the mythic standing of 1963B $1 Barr notes pitched as one of the hobby’s greatest rarities on eBay. This note is the perfect trap for the unsuspecting collector who jumps at the chance to own a note signed by a Secretary of the Treasury who only served for a few short months (12/21/1968 – 1/20/1969). Wait, but this guy didn’t even make it to Valentine’s Day – surely his notes must be priceless? Sorry, not really. A Choice UNC will run you about $6.

Suffice to say one of the true rarities of all small sized currency came much earlier on, at the pen of an oddly named Ogden Livingston Mills, Secretary of the Treasury 2/13/1932 – 3/4/1933. His “John Hancock” on the 1928B $2 Legal Tender note is literally priceless. Tack a star on the serial number and you’re talking museum show piece, something that you might be able to afford in your next life as a billionaire.

First things first, let’s have a look at Oggy Mills’ signature and henchman Walter Orr Woods, Treasurer of the United States 1/18/1929 – 5/31/1933:

Treasurer Walter Orr Woods
Treasurer Walter Orr Woods
Secretary Ogden Livingston Mills
Secretary Ogden Livingston Mills

Looks harmless enough, right? Mr. Mills’ penmanship is par for the course and he even accentuates his middle name with a nice “L.” in the middle for us. If I were Ogden, I would have signed “O. Livingston Mills”, because Livingston is a much cooler first name.

But back to business… Last week we chronicled the caviar of collectible $1000 bills, the 1928 $1000 star note. This week we show you a note just as – if not more so – rare: the 1928B $2 Legal Tender Star Note, with just 8 specimens known to exist. This number pales in comparison to the 12+ 1928 $1000 stars known in the collecting fraternity. Here, have a look for yourself:

Fr. 1503* 1928B $2 Legal Tender Note - Woods-Mills - 8 Known
Fr. 1503* 1928B $2 Legal Tender Note - Woods-Mills - 8 Known

This particular specimen graced Heritage Auctions’ catalog January 11, 2008, and definitely got the attention of some serious collectors. With a final hammer price of $46,000 (including buyer’s premium) this rock star note easily led the small sized note pack, and perhaps the entire auction itself with its huge valuation. Remember folks, there are large size notes that couldn’t hold a candle to this puppy!

With a paltry 8 star specimens known, it’s safe to say Ogden Mills’ legacy in the paper money hobby will be remembered forever. Sometimes, it’s not what you’re named, it’s where you’re named. In this case, Woods and Mills found just the right spot on the 1928B $2 Legal Tender, a note which most people would dismiss as too pedestrian for serious collecting.

In this case, it literally pays to know your paper money facts. If you see this note parked next to a Mark McGwire rookie card at a garage sale, we hope you’ll make the right choice and kick McGwire to the curb. “Livvy” Mills should definitely garner MUCH more respect!

This is article is written for entertainment and news purposes only. All trademarks and business names are property of their respective holders. Snarky remarks about an individual’s name are protected by the 1st amendment, although in this case they might be warranted. 🙂 Please contact Heritage Auctions, LLC. if you have interest in making an offer on this note to its current lucky-as-hell owner.

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