Bonhams’ Coins, Medals and Banknotes auction, held on December 13th in New York will be marked by the sale of a newly discovered $5 Series 1892 “Brown Back” National Banknote from Creede, Colorado that sold for $101,790, achieving a 13.1% increase on its $90,000 high estimate.
The note was accompanied in the sale by a paper envelope that states: “FIRST BILL ISSUED AT THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF CREEDE. SIGNED BY JOHN MCDONOUGH PR J.W. MERRITT CASHIER”.
Creede is a small town in Colorado, located in Mineral County in Southwestern region of the state. In 1889, it became a “boom town” after a large amount of silver was discovered in nearby Willow Creek. But Creed’s boom lasted until 1893, as the price of silver plummeted and many of mines were closed, resulting in the liquidation of the bank on December 31, 1895.
The bill at auction, was the first banknote issued on March 29, 1892, the same day the Creede National Bank was first chartered. Also, it is the only known example from Creede and features the coveted number one serial number. All of the currency issued by the bank was in $5 notes, of which just $255 was still outstanding as of 1910.
Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Medals Department at Bonhams, said of the banknote: “We were pleased to offer such a rare example in our winter auction. The previously unreported $5 banknote is 120 years old and holds a storied place in American history.”
This banknote barely resembles the kind of money that is printed today. In fact, it is a relic from an era when there were more than 8,000 different kinds of money in the United States.