Rare and historic 1792 U.S. federal bond, issued to and signed by George Washington in 1792, soars to $265,500

  • FORT LEE, New Jersey
  • /
  • November 22, 2013

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This 1792 U.S. federal bond, signed by George Washington, sold for $265,500 at auction.
Archives International Auctions

 (FORT LEE, N.J.) – Nearly 1,500 lots of rare and highly collectible U.S. and worldwide banknotes, scripophily (the collecting of stocks and bonds), autographs, historical documents and security printing ephemera sold for a combined $637,870 in a two-day, two-session catalog and Internet sale held Oct. 19 and 22 by Archives International Auctions (archivesinternational.com).

The auction was held on non-consecutive days in two states. The Oct. 19 session was on the final day of the third annual Wall Street Coin, Currency & Collectibles Show, held at the Museum of American Finance in New York City. The Oct. 22 session was held at Archives International Auctions’ offices, located at 1580 Lemoine Avenue in Fort Lee, N.J.

Highlighting the auction was a historic U.S. federal bond, issued to and signed by then-President George Washington in 1792. With an 18 percent buyer’s premium, the bond soared to $265,500, the most ever paid at auction for a single U.S. stock or bond. It was one of the very first securities traded on the New York Stock Exchange, after the Exchange's founding in 1792.


“We are thrilled that the Washington bond changed hands for such a staggering amount in the burgeoning field of scripophily,” said Dr. Robert Schwartz of Archives International Auctions. “The consignor and the buyer were both very happy.” He added, “The sale overall was a huge success, heavily attended in-person and online both days and with solid prices realized.”

Following are highlights from the auction. All prices include an 18 percent buyer’s premium. More than 250 people registered to bid online, via www.archivesinternational.com.

The Oct. 19 session was heavy with non-numismatic but historically important items, beginning with The First Hour Collection of significant documents and objects. These included an authentic Edison stock ticker ($8,850); a large format circa 1850 lithograph of the Declaration of Independence ($1,534); and a Brooklyn Bridge Opening Ceremonies souvenir book ($767).

Next up was The Copps Collection of historic colonial fiscal paper, documents and stock and bond certificates, gathered 30-plus years ago. Included in the group was the Washington bond. Another highlight was a 1775 Colony of Massachusetts bond, engraved by the legendary Paul Revere. It went for an impressive $6,195. Other colonial items hammered for strong prices.

The autograph session featured 55 lots of autographed documents, stocks and bonds, 37 of which found new homes. A star lot was an issued stock book of 24 certificates dating from 1911-1914, signed by the founders of Abraham & Strauss (including the signatures of Isidor Strauss and his wife, who both died aboard the Titanic in 1912). The stock book made $11,800.

Other lots that did well in the autograph session included two items signed by Buffalo Bill Cody, one a letter ($1,239), the other a stock certificate ($2,360); a Daniel Drew signed stock certificate for the Buffalo & Stateline Railroad Company, dated 1854 ($2,242); and a Standard Oil stock certificate signed by industrial magnate John D. Rockefeller, dated 1881 ($3,835).

The scripophily section boasted 486 lots (309 of which changed hands, for a respectable sell-through rate of 63 percent). Section highlights included a circa 1920 Victor Talking Machine Company specimen ($1,121); a Republic of China $1,000 issued bond ($796.50); a Republic of Haiti 1922 specimen bond ($737.50) and a Higgins Wonder Oil Company specimen ($2,478).

Michigan Mining certificates were well represented by a new estate stock certificate find. The highlights included an 1863 Dodge Mining Company certificate and an 1864 Isabella Silver Lead Mining company certificate, both of which fetched $3,540. Two other Michigan certificates also topped $3,000. Also, a Wells Fargo Mining Company certificate from 1880 rose to $2,596.

Railroads overall did well, with more than 60 percent of lots offered finding new owners. Two different Iowa Specimen certificates – a Boone County Railway Company and a Southern Iowa Railway – hammered for $747 and $885, respectively. Both were record prices for Iowa railroads. Additional railroad certificates knocked down for impressive prices during the session.

A historic circa 1850-1870 San Francisco city bond collection was broken down into five lots. All did exceptionally well, with the top earner (of 29 bonds) climbing to $1,829. Also, an 1818 Bank of the State of Mississippi breezed to $1,121, easily passing its high estimate of $500.

Worldwide banknotes totaled 225 lots sold, out of 346 offered (for a 65 percent sell-through). Star lots included a Chinese 1904 Hupeh Government Cash Bank issue ($3,599); a 1917 Banque de France essay proof, back by ABNC ($4,425); a Banque de L’Indochine 1,000 Piastres note from 1951 ($5,605, tying a record); and a 1952 Kingdom of Libya bank specimen ($3,835).

Mexico was very strong in selected issues. A previously unlisted 1890 Specimen Bono de Caja from El Banco de Veracruz fetched $5,015; a group of proof production notes from Poland made $619-$1,475 each; an unlisted Russian Treaty note from 1917 for 500,000 pounds (s/n #5) brought $2,360; and a no date issue specimen set from the UAE currency board sold for $7,965.

The historic ephemera and document category featured a fresh estate Wells Fargo collection assembled in the late 1890s. Highlights included a high condition, circa 1850s Wells Fargo & Company banking broadside from San Francisco ($3,068). U.S. banknotes included a New York, Astor Bank black and white obsolete banknote proof from around the 1850s ($826).

Other star U.S. lots included a Second Liberty Loan that was canceled and then reissued ($2,596); and a 1925 United States Adjusted Service certificate ($2,124); Fractional currency featured 1896 Educational Silver Certificate sets ($1, $2, $5) hitting $2,478, $4,425 and $4,425; and an 1880 Heath’s U.S. Treasury and National Banknote Detector in excellent shape ($1,652).

It was only the 16th auction for Archives International Auctions. In its six-year history, the company has become synonymous with quality auctions dedicated to U.S. and worldwide banknotes, scripophily and other numismatic ephemera. AIA was chosen to be the auctioneer for the third annual Wall Street Coin, Currency & Collectibles Show held Oct. 17-19 in Manhattan.

Archives International Auctions is always looking for quality U.S. and worldwide banknotes, stocks, bonds, stamps, coins and postal history, from better individual items to large collections (for auction or purchase). To sell or consign a single item or a large collection, you may call them at (201) 944-4800, or you can inquire via e-mail at info@archivesinternational.com.

They have a February 2014 auction of U.S. & Worldwide Banknotes, Scripophily & Autographs planned as well as their second Hong Kong banknote Auction for March 2014 with dates to be announced for both sales. To learn more about Archives International Auctions and the upcoming calendar of events, please log on to www.archivesinternational.com. Watch the website for details as the New Year approaches.

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Dr. Robert Schwartz
Archives International Auctions
(201) 944-4800

Archives International Auctions
1580 Lemoine Avenue
Suite 7
Fort Lee, New Jersey
(201) 944-4800

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