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Obsolete bank note 1 known question

Curious... what is the possible value of an only known example of an obsolete bank note, even in poor condition?



  • Steve_in_TampaSteve_in_Tampa Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I believe this would be called a Discovery Note. I’m not familiar with pricing but @sellitstore (Russell) will certainly know. I consider him the Obsolete expert.

  • I collect obsoletes. The annoying answer is—- it depends. There are no price guides and the ones that do exist are not accurate. with the exception of the most abundant notes on the market. I collect Maine notes, so for instance Searsport notes, Sanford Bank or Hancock notes, you can dial in a fair market value for those as there are enough transactions to do so. Many other notes are scarce or rare even if they are not “one known” notes, maybe 5 exist, so not enough data exists to lock down a price at any one time.
    Even if it is the only known note, condition will still make a difference. Not so much as condition on a common note, but it will still ultimately matter.
    Also, is this the only known note of the bank period, or a denomination rarity. i.e. other notes on the bank known in other denominations, and this is the only one of that denomination? Is it a an issued note, a proof or a remainder? Is this listed in any reference books as know to have been issued by the bank but previously undiscovered, or was this previously not described and the note is a new one of a design never know to have existed?
    Obsolete prices are all over the place. Every sale is different. If you found the right collector, they would want it.
    It exciting to find a “one known” note.
    If it’s a Maine note I’d let you know what I’d be willing to pay 😉

  • sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,481 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MaineMoneyMan provides some excellent information as to factors that will influence the value of a unique obsolete. I see the value of such a note as being determined primarily by the collectors who are after it.

    The market for such notes is thin and tends to be on a state by state basis. Wisconsin notes used to be really expensive because Chet Krause and the Schingoethes collected them. Chet collected only Wisconsin and the Schingoethes collected everything, with a preference for the Midwest and both had lots of money. So rare Wisconsin proofs would regularly bring around $2000 each at a time when rare proof from other states were usually available for under $500. So the collectors, usually after a particular state, will determine the value of a unique note. And different collectors care about different factors.

    Also, be very careful with the word "unique". "Pop 1" notes are NOT unique (only for now). Obsolete population tracking (TPG pop reports) is still WAY TOO EARLY in developing any meaningful data. You can still find many common notes listed as pop1. Just today on Ebay I saw a GA Railroad and Banking $10 listed as "unique" for $150. It's a scarcer denomination from a scarce issuer. Haxby lists it as "SENC" which only means that he didn't see one among the collections that he reviewed during the 1980s when writing his catalog.

    So, getting back to the original question, what's a unique obsolete note worth, the range can be tremendous. The most expensive are the record prices for obsoletes. I'm not sure but the record may be held by Stacks when they sold an original 1784 genuine note from the Bank of North America (from Ford). I believe that it brought a little over $100,000 but I don't remember the exact details, although I was there. Clark and Grueber $5 notes have brought $50,000+ but there are 2 or 3 of them, so not unique. On the other end of the spectrum would be ordinary scrip notes from "common" states, like New York and Pennsylvania. These can be had for as little as $100-$200 for ordinary notes in decent grades.

    The number of serious collectors, those willing to purchase a unique note at market value, is quite small on a state by state basis, perhaps 0-10 from each state. Florida has always had serious collectors and still does. Several big Georgia collections have come to market in recent years making rarities available at lower prices. Alabama and Arkansas have long been avidly collected by a few serious collectors but some of those collectors have started to sell. Kentucky has always been a less collected state and the big collection from there has recently been sold and marketed with many rarities and a limited number of serious collectors to buy them. Virginia is like Florida-always collectors and probably always will be collectors for this state. Carolinas are always popular. Ohio was different when Tom Durkin, Wendell Wolka and the Schingoethes collected this state but there seems to be some new blood in this area (like Maine, too), so if the collectors stick with it, they will become more serious about acquiring the rarities, but it could take years. Collectors come and go and so do the "hot" states.

    Southern State notes tend to bring more than Northern ones as there still seem to be more collectors in the South. This may be because of the related Confederate currency issues and the fact that Criswell wrote about and promoted them along with Southern State notes and obsoletes. Unique Southern scrip in average circulated grades may sell for $300-$750 while Northern issues may bring more like $100-$500. For bank notes maybe $400-$1000 and $250-$750, respectively. However, as a collector, I and many others might pay 2 or 3 times those numbers for anything that appealed to me in particular. Maybe the note was issued on my birthday and I end up bidding against a rich guy who just liked the horse vignette on this particular note. That's how a $500 note can easily bring $2000. It's unique-where are you going to find another?

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,936 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Back in 1990 I sold the Schingoethes a large group of $3 obsolete notes from my collection. I also met Chet Krause several times but never sold anything to him. I was well aware that Chet and the Schingoethes were avidly competing for Wisconsin notes and have wondered what happened to their collections. I seem to recall reading that Chet had disposed of his collections before his death but know no details.

    How has the Wisconsin note market fared in recent years?

    All glory is fleeting.
  • sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,481 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 3, 2023 5:16AM

    The Schingoethes collection was sold after the death of Martha but while Herb was still alive. RM Smythe of NY offered the collection in a series of 18 sales from 2004-08. I had already sold several thousand of their duplicates on Ebay that they had consigned around 2000-2002. I think that Chet's collection went to Stack's.

    Here's where the proceeds from their collection went-to their "other" collection:

    I looked back at Heritage prices realized since 2000 to see how closely my impressions of the Wisconsin market stacked up against reality. The most striking impression was the lack of rare notes offered up through 2008 and maybe later. When they appeared, rare proofs brought as much as $4000-$6000. By 2016, many rare proofs were again on the market and could be had for as little as $400-$600 each. Now they seem solid in the $500-$1000 range, sometimes more. Common, pretty remainders were cheap 20 years ago and bring 2-3 times as much today, even more certified.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,936 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I never knew they had such an extensive collection of native American artifacts. It is good to know that it now has a permanent home.

    All glory is fleeting.
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