While we’ve talked about some of the most valuable coins and some of the most sought after pennies, one thing that hasn’t crossed our blog yet, is what are the top 5 most valuable US bank notes. These are the MVPs of collectible bank notes, and some versions of them are even sitting in museums. Curious? Read on…
No. 5 – 1918 Alexander Hamilton $1000 Banknote
The first banknote on our list made it’s acting debut on an episode of Pawn Stars. Valued at a cool $7,000 on the episode, the reason why this rarity was valued so low is because there are so many of them known to still exist in comparison to the others on this list. 150 copies of this bill are known to still exist. However, depending on serial number and date issued, they can go for almost ten times the face value of the bill!
No.4 – 1928 $50 Gold Certificate
This gold certificate holds almost the same mythical collecting status as the Saint Gauden’s Double Eagle. Only a dozen of the $50 gold certificates survived in collector’s hands after FDR’s famous gold recall in 1933. The most recent one that came up for auction sold for over $120,000. Not too bad of a return for a bill that was technically illegal to own until the 1970s.
No.3 – 1882 $500 Gold Certificate
This banknote was one of the first banknotes printed in the US and was part of one of the craziest discoveries of old banknotes that I’ve heard of. The note was discovered after the execution of a turn of the century banker’s will which lead to the discovery of the near mint collection of bank notes, with notes (including this one) dating back to the civil war. Crazy how these bills survived 130 years in mint condition stuffed at the back of a cash drawer. After going to auction, this certificate sold for $2.7 million. Not surprising since the only other known to exist is in the Federal Reserve exhibit in the Smithsonian.
No.2 – 1891 Red Seal $1000 Banknote
This banknote, like the gold certificate listed above is another one of the lottery level rarities in banknote collecting since only two are known to exist and the last time one came up for auction was in 1944. This banknote previously held the record of highest value sold at auction when it was sold at $2.5 million. The only other banknote to sell higher than this is the one listed at No. 1 on our list.
No.1 – 1890 Grand Watermelon Bill
Now, I know, how can you take a banknote known as the grand watermelon seriously. But don’t mistake the funny name for something that isn’t a serious collector’s item. The name of the bill comes from the design and denomination of the bill. It’s actually a $1,000 bill. The watermelon nickname came from the design on the bill showing green and white striping on the denomination along with the curvature of the numbers make them look like watermelons. The last time this went up for auction back in 2013, it sold for an easy $3.2 million.
Well, there you have it, as you can see, US currency is a very popular collectors item and while these might be some of the most valuable collector’s items, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other great collectibles to gain. If you’re curious, check out some of the great collectible banknotes, foreign and domestic, that we have in stock!