The $5 bill displayed for decades on Charles Fairbanks IV’s wall was long a treasured family heirloom from Alaska. Now, to the surprise of the grandson of a turn-of-a-century vice-president, it’s also become a likely treasure trove.
The rare find is expected to fetch as much as $300,000 at auction this month when a Texas auctioneer plans to put it up for bids in Dallas and online as part of the American Numismatic Association National Money Show.
The bill was presented in 1905 to Vice-President Charles W. Fairbanks — Theodore Roosevelt’s No. 2 — and was from the First National Bank of Fairbanks, Alaska. The family has had it in their possession ever since and recently decided to auction it off through Dallas-based Heritage Auctions.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful find,” said Dustin Johnston, director of Heritage’s currency auctions.
Auction officials say the Fairbanks bill that features an image of President Benjamin Harrison is a highlight that’s expected to sell for $200,000 to $300,000. The minimum starting bid is $120,000.
Fairbanks always knew the bill was special, at least to his family, given that it was presented to the former vice-president as a memento from the frontier city named after him.
Fairbanks learned last year that the uncirculated note’s estimated value had skyrocketed far beyond the estimate of $50,000 to $60,000 set in the mid-1990s, which prompted him to start locking it up whenever he travelled.
With the new estimate, the 66-year-old great-grandson no longer felt comfortable displaying it on a wall in his Santa Barbara, Calif., home.
It was no longer just a framed family keepsake, so off it went to a safety deposit box.
“Why stress out and worry about something?” Fairbanks said. “It’d be like having a Monet in the house.”
But keeping it hidden didn’t do anyone any good. So Fairbanks decided to consign it to Heritage. He said his family has plenty of other historical memorabilia, or he wouldn’t have done it.
Charles W. Fairbanks was a U.S. senator from Indiana in the late 1890s when he was credited with playing a key role to resolve a border dispute with Canada triggered by the Klondike Gold Rush. As a result of his efforts, most of the disputed territory went to the United States.
But the real reason the city of Fairbanks was named after him was because he played a key role in the appointment of a federal judge, James Wickersham, a man Fairbanks met during the border dispute, according to University of Alaska Fairbanks historian Terrence Cole. To return the favour, Wickersham urged city founders to call the settlement Fairbanks.
“He said, ‘I owe everything that I am to him,'” Cole said.
Auction officials also note the bill’s rarity. Only three banks in Alaska — out of more than 12,000 banks nationwide — issued the bills.
The Fairbanks bill was just one of four notes of its kind in the $5 denomination that were issued in 1905 by the now-defunct Alaska bank, according to Johnston. One of those bills sold 15 years ago for close to $100,000 and the market has “really picked up for the rarest pieces,” he said.
A third bill is in storage at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, collections manager of ethnology and history Angela Linn said Wednesday. The bill is in pristine condition and looks as if it just came off the printing press, she said, adding that its distinctive quirk is a curve in part of the edge.
The bill being auctioned is unfolded and there is no wear, either, Johnston said. Its colour is a little muted because the family displayed it for so long. There also have been some minor restorations to the back corners, but Johnston doesn’t expect that to affect the selling price, given the bill’s rarity, pedigree and history.
It’s probably one of the better national bank notes that will come to auction over this decade, he said.
“It’s easily in the top five of what I’ve handled,” Johnston said.
Posts Tagged With: bank notes
South Carolina Ghost Towns/Treasure Legends by County
1…Blackwood, 3 miles North of New Prospect
2…Paris, 3 miles West of Chesnee
3…McMullen, 4 miles Southwest of Chesnee
4…Brannon, 3 miles South of New Prospect
5…Bennett, 2 miles North of Campobello
6…Andover, 3 miles South/Southwest ofCampobello
7…Tular, 4 miles West of Moore
8…Cashville, 5 miles South of Reidville
9…Hebron, 5 miles South of Glen Springs
10..Evinsville, 3 1/2 miles North/Northeast of Cross Anchor
No Treasure legends for Spartanburg county
1…In 1865, Union troops chased a retreating Jefferson Davis, his cabinet and Confederate soldiers
were transporting the Confederate Treasury from Yorksville to Unionville. As the crossed the
river at Smith’s Ford, Union soldiers caught up with the rear guard, taking 10 prisoners. It was
reported that a portion of the gold and silver was buried near this ford and never recovered.
When the Yankees caught up with the group, they captured 7 wagons in the woods as the Confederates
were in the process of burying the contents near the fork of the Apalachee and Oconee Rivers.
They captured $188,000 in coin, $1 1/2 Million in bank notes, $4 Million in Confederate currency.
The buried cache has never been recovered from this area.
1…Pickney, on the tri-county line, 3 miles Northeast of Adamsburg
2…Bonham, 5 miles North of Union
3…Gist, 3 1/2 miles North of Buffalo
4…Colerain, 3 miles Southeast of West Springs
5…Delta, 3 miles Northeast of Whitmire on railroad
6…Ada, on railroad and Tyger River, 6 miles Northeast of Whitmire
7…Herbert, in the Southeast corner of county, 2 miles Northwest of Shelton
1…Jachin, 7 miles due East of Fountain Inn
2…Paul, on West county line, 2 1/2 miles Northwest of Hickory Tavern
3…Tylersville, 4 miles Southeast of Landord
4…Hintington, 5 miles, due South of Cross Anchor
5…Renno, on railroad 7 1/2 miles West of Whitmire
6…Garlington, on railroad and East county line, 5 miles West of Whitmire
7…Simpson, 8 miles West of Laurens
8…Ekom, 9 miles Southwest of Laurens
9…Owingsville, 6 miles due West of Waterloo
10..Baldwin, on South county line, 3 miles Southwest of Waterloo
11..Madden, on railroad, 3 miles Southwest of Laurens
12..Coldpoint, 5 miles North of Waterloo
13..Harris Springs, 2 1/2 miles East/Southeast of Waterloo
14..Milton, 6 miles South of Clinton
15..Sarah, 5 miles East of Cross Hill near the East county line
16..Carroll, and the Saluda River, 3 miles Southwest of Cross Hill
17..Manilla, near the Southeast county line, 5 miles Southeast of Cross Hill
1…Rufus Baker buried a cache of gold and silver coins in the vicinty of Cross Hill
1…Clara, in the far Northwest corner of the county on the State Line, 7 1/2 miles West/Southwest of Caesars Head
2…Venus, 2 miles South of Caesars Head
3…Riverview, 1 mile Northwest of Cleveland
4…Terry, 3 miles East of Cleveland
5…Merrittsville, 7 1/2 miles North of Tigerville
6…Ben, 5 miles Northeast of Tigerville
7…Bettie, 3 1/2 miles North of Tigerville
8…Tyger, 3 miles East of Tigerville
9…Mitchell, 6 miles South of Gowensville
10..Jesse, 1 1/2 miles Northeast of Marietta
11..Marydale, 4 miles East of Marietta
12..Sandy Flat, 5 miles North/Northwest of Taylor
13..Crotwell, 4 miles Northwest of Taylor
14..Grove, 3 miles North/Northeast of Piedmont
15..Woodville, 5 miles due East of Williamston
16..Flora, on East county line, 3 miles Southeast of Pelham
17..Clear Springs, 3 miles due East of Mauldin
18..Huntersville, 7 miles due East of Mauldin
19..Albans, 6 miles Southeast of Simpsonville
20..Lickville, 4 miles Southwest of Fork Shoals
21..Cedrus, 2 1/2 miles South of Fork Shoals
1…The Tory bandit Bloody Bill Bates used the mountain area near Travelers Rest and Greenville to hide caches of
stolen good, merchandise and loot. He was captured and shot at Greenville without revealing the exact location
of his plunder and it has yet to be discovered.
1…State Line, on the state line, 5 miles Northeast of Chesnee
2…Maud, 7 1/2 miles Northwest of Gaffney
3…Goforth, 6 miles North of Gaffney
4…Terry, 3 miles Northeast of Blacksburg
5…Lawn, 5 miles Southeast of Gaffney
6…Goucher, on West county line, 4 miles Southeast of Cowpens
7…Asbury, 5 miles Northeast of Pacolet
8…Gowdeysville, 8 miles North/Northeast of Jonesville
9…Wilkinsville, 6 miles Southwest of Hickory Grove
10..Sunnyside, 10 miles Southwest of Hickory Grove
No treasure legends this county