On 10 January 2014, a record for World Most Expensive Banknote were broken at Florida United Numismatics (FUN) Convention Rare Currency Auction in Orlando by a 1890 $1,000 Grand Watermelon banknote for USD$3,290,000. The same 1890 $1,000 Small Red Seal Grand Watermelon banknote privately sold by Heritage Auction on 16 December 2006 for $2,255,000.
The 1890 $1000 Treasury note received the number one spot and was entitled "A Legendary Rarity" in the 100 Greatest American Currency Notes by Q. David Bowers and David M. Sundman published in 2006. We seldom have the luxury of recent sale records when offering incredible rarities. In this instance we have the equally rare and similarly graded Fr. 379c which sold last April.
|1890 $1,000 Grand Watermelon banknote sold for USD$3,290,000|
|$1000 Grand Watermelon-World Most Expensive Banknote|
The only other known red seal Grand Watermelon is in the museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
This note is graded PCGS Extremely Fine 40. This note was previously owned by Albert Grinnell and sold in Barney Bluestone's November 25, 1944 sale as lot 224. It remained off the market until the 1970 ANA sale, when it was sold by Rarcoa as lot 1743. This note was placed privately by Heritage into the Greensboro Collection in 2006 along with the unique 1891 $1000 Treasury note which we auctioned last April for $2,585,000. In that transaction, this note was priced at $2,225,000. The $2,255,000 price is more than double the previous record for a Grand Watermelon note, paid at a March 2005 auction for a brown seal, graded PCGS Currency-50.
This note shares the identical face design with the Open Back sold by Heritage on April 2013, the only differences in the design are the date, this is Series 1890, that was Series 1891, and the signatures. This note is signed by W.S. Rosecrans and E. H. Nebeker. The 1891 $1000 is signed by Tillman and Morgan. The back designs are entirely different. This is the final iteration of the "Grand Watermelon" design.
The portrait on Grand Watermelon notes is Civil War-era General George Gordon Meade, who commanded Union Army troops at the Battle of Gettysburg. The banknote gets the name Grand Watermelon because of the large numeral fills and the zero on the reverse look like a big watermelon.
Source: Heritage Auction