Outbid on Fractional Currency Shield

I recently got outbid on this fractional currency shield that sold for $4,148 at Skinner Auctions in Boston. It was in a sale of furniture and lithographs with an estimate of $400-$600 so I thought I might score a deal. Guess not. But it's a handsome looking shield anyway and probably sold at a good price. Any thoughts of its value?

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They were also offering this lot of two colonial notes that sold for $6,518 and this larger lot of colonials which went for $2,726, which I did not bid on.

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My website: RICurrency.com

Comments

  • Cinch:

    If I remember correctly in a couple of past auctions where they offered these fractional shields, one lot would say, it was NOT in the original frame and others, no mention of the subject. Did each shield come with a black original frame? Apparently, the one you showed was in a modern frame.....it sorta looked strange in a brown frame.

    Iwonder if this shield had been worked on by some people to remove water stain which was a very common problem with these sheilds.........or might be just the photo. Regardless, the price was very reasonable considering the shield was in such a good shape.
  • Unfortunately, there's no such thing as an "original" frame, as the Treasury sold the shields unframed. Most of the shields known are in contemporary frames - broad dark wood with a gold inner border and wood plank backing that didn't quite cover the back, leaving horizontal aging areas across parts of the shield. Flooding in the Treasury storage area also resulted in many shields having water staining or damage, particularly at the bottom.

    This shield has a less desirable frame, but the shield itself appears to be in better than average condition. The price is high, but then again, try to find another.
    Martin Gengerke
    Reliable, accurate census data
  • I used to see these shields a lot in auctions but not lately. Are they getting scarce because they are being held in "tight hands"?

    About the frame issue.....that was what I thought about the black frame not being sold together with the shields, but somehow in the auctions they like to imply differently........in order to jack up the price? How many of these shields exist, in your estimate?
  • dtreterdtreter Posts: 2,231 ✭✭✭
    There are about 20-25 pink shields and 10-14 green shields known. The grey shield (the type in the auction) has a population of 200-400 shields. Estimates of price for grey shields is $3-9k depending on the condition of the shield.
  • cinchcinch Posts: 1,846
    Stack's auctioned off six shields from their own collection in the September Philadelphia Americana sale. The prices ranged from $5,750 to $16k. Heritage's archives have a broad range of prices, too. The ones in the poorest condition selling for around $2k. I didn't see this one in person, but the paper looks good in comparison to other water-stained ones I've seen. The red ink of some of the notes is faded, however, and I know that is one thing that affects value. Since there were so many variables and this isn't my area of expertise, I bid low but I do think the buyer got a respectable bargain. I lost on several other non-currency pieces at this auction, though someone I was bidding with did win a few things that were good values.

    dtreter: thanks for the info, I was trying to compare prices but couldn't tell if this was a grey or pink shield.

    Martin: I always wondered why they were all water stained! Now I know, thanks.




    My website: RICurrency.com
  • So all the various kinds of fractional images were printed on a big cardboard.

    Questions:

    1). Were these cardboards issued at the end of the fractional issuing period or were they updated when a new issue was printed?
    2). I've heard that these cardboards were issued for the solely purpose for distribution to merchants so that they (the merchants) could easily identify all the different kinds of fractionals in their day to day transactions.
    3). If #2 was correct, then the Treasury Dept must have printed thousands of these cardboards and yet the survival rate is quite low in comparison. I assume most were thrown away when fractionals became obsolete.


  • << <i>So all the various kinds of fractional images were printed on a big cardboard.

    Questions:

    1). Were these cardboards issued at the end of the fractional issuing period or were they updated when a new issue was printed?
    2). I've heard that these cardboards were issued for the solely purpose for distribution to merchants so that they (the merchants) could easily identify all the different kinds of fractionals in their day to day transactions.
    3). If #2 was correct, then the Treasury Dept must have printed thousands of these cardboards and yet the survival rate is quite low in comparison. I assume most were thrown away when fractionals became obsolete. >>



    First, the notes were printed on thin white paper (usually the CSA watermarked seized from a Confederate blockade runner), and were then pasted on the large cardboard "shield." The shield actually had a "map" of where each note went printed in pale blue, to aid the employees doing the pasting.

    The shields were all issued during the "third issue" in the late 1860s, thus there are no "fourth issue" notes.

    There is no definitive contemporary explanation of why the shields were sold - your explanation is as good as any!

    I doubt many of these were thrown away, for two reasons. First, they were decorative, and purchasers had to pay for them. Second, fractionals never became obsolete - in fact they are still legal tender today! The existance of so many shields water damaged from Treasury storage indicates that they overestimated the demand for them. It is not known what ever happened to those in storage - maybe they are still there. I've been in a couple of high security Treasury warehouses in the DC vicinity, ad they've got some absolutely awesome things stored away. You wouldn't believe some of it! They had a a fantastic exhibit of glass and brass frames of money and stamps for expositions in the 1890s. They're all still intact in storage...

    Drooling will commence in five... four... three...

    Martin Gengerke
    Reliable, accurate census data
  • Thanks Martin. Your are a true currency scholar and I always look forward to your posts!
  • Thanks Martin, that was great info. Sorry when I mentioned the word "obsolete", I meant, no longer widely circulated but still a legal tender.......is there a word for that term? So actually the "Shield" had many fractionals that were NOT represented due to their late arrival to the scene.

    Sorry when I mentioned the word "obsolete", I meant, no longer widely circulated but still a legal tender.......is there a word for that term?

    I'd give up a couple years of my life if I could go into the BEP vault to see what they have in storage. A janitor might have to follow me with a mop to clean up my drool throughout the tour.


  • << <i>Sorry when I mentioned the word "obsolete", I meant, no longer widely circulated but still a legal tender.......is there a word for that term?

    I'd give up a couple years of my life if I could go into the BEP vault to see what they have in storage. A janitor might have to follow me with a mop to clean up my drool throughout the tour. >>



    There is a word for them, but in one of my increasingly frequent senior moments I can't remember it.

    Equal in fun to that warehouse was a 1972 trip to the BEP annex building. I felt like Indiana Jones... I was taken to a floor with an old guard sitting in a chair leaning backward against an old vault door. Inside it was horribly dusty and dirty, with disintegrating leather bindings all over... the kind if you get it on your clothes you throw away the clothes. Some records I wanted were on a high shelf, needing a ladder. Found some but not others, until I removed some from the shelf, and hidden behind them was... "Record of Plates No. 1 / National Currency Bureau" I had found the crystal skull, the Masonic national treasure... the ark!
    Martin Gengerke
    Reliable, accurate census data
  • cinchcinch Posts: 1,846
    That sounds like an incredible opportunity, Martin. I wonder how someone would go about getting access today. Does anyone know what committee of Congress overseas the BEP?


    My website: RICurrency.com


  • << <i>That sounds like an incredible opportunity, Martin. I wonder how someone would go about getting access today. Does anyone know what committee of Congress overseas the BEP? >>


    Can't say. In my case I worked for Stack's, and Vladimir and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli (head of the numismatic division of the Smithsonian Institution) were former Stack's employees. Stack's just had the Stefanellis pull a few strings with the BEP and a few other places...
    Martin Gengerke
    Reliable, accurate census data
  • gsalexgsalex Posts: 327 ✭✭

    @MoneyMonkey said:
    ... I've been in a couple of high security Treasury warehouses in the DC vicinity, ad they've got some absolutely awesome things stored away. You wouldn't believe some of it! They had a a fantastic exhibit of glass and brass frames of money and stamps for expositions in the 1890s. They're all still intact in storage...

    I happened on a fascinating page on the U.S. Treasury website and made the connection with something MoneyMonkey posted some years back. I don't think Martin is still on the forum but it's a great story.
    https://treasury.gov/about/history/collections/Pages/Columbian-Frames.aspx

    Intrigued by all things intaglio.
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