Fernandina, FL - Ch. 4558 - 1882 $10 Brown Back Serial #1
It is our pleasure to offer the latest and possibly greatest Florida national banknote discovery of the last several years. In late April of this year a fourth generation member of a Fernandina banking family found that he was in possession of one of the best Florida national banknotes out there. Upon learning of its significant value, the decision was made to auction it with us. Not counting the still uncut pair of Key West brown backs, there are just two other #1 brown backs for the state. Those are from the much larger cities of Pensacola and Tampa. This Fernandina #1 brown back is from the A plate position - so it truly is the absolute first note the bank issued. The fact that the bank president had the forethought to save this local piece of history really doesn't come as a shock if you know the history of Fernandina.
Fernandina (now Fernandina Beach) is located on the Northern most section of Florida's Atlantic coast. And unlike a lot of Central and South Florida which was mostly just swamp land until the newly built railroads ushered in the real estate boom of the late 19th and early 20th century, Fernandina has been a fort/establishment/city since 1732. Fernandina is located on Amelia Island. Amelia Island is known as the Isle of 8 Flags. France, Spain, England, Mexico, The Confederacy, The United States, and two different rebel groups have all laid claim to the island at some point in history. Fernandina even had a state bank that issued obsolete currency dated as 1859 and 1860. Point being, that when The First National Bank of Fernandina received its initial shipment of national currency, it isn't a surprise that the bank president, knowing the history of Fernandina, decided to save this souvenir that is now up for auction today. The only thing that is surprising is that it took 123 years for the rest of us to find it!
Charter 4558 nationalized in 1891 with RC Cooley as cashier and Fred W Hoyt as president. Cooley, a Massachusetts native, left the bank in 1894 to join The First National Bank of Jacksonville. He was with the bank in Jacksonville until it closed in 1903 and he then left the banking field. Fred W Hoyt was a teacher, newspaper editor, grocer, and ship chandler in the Fernandina and Jacksonville area before he opened The Bank of Fernandina in July of 1887. While it appears he left day to day bank operations in the early 1910s, he was still a fixture around Fernandina until his death in 1928. Today his home is a bed and breakfast in Fernandina. The bank itself survived past the national currency era and was bought in 1948 and its name was changed to The Florida First National Bank of Fernandina Beach. Today it is part of the Wells Fargo bank chain.
In terms of condition, this note is tied for the second best brown back on the state. It is completely free of any hard folds. The upper corners have just enough handling to put the note in the AU grade. Three pinholes can be seen when held to the light; and it looks like the Florida humidity has toned the paper a touch around the darker inks. Just the absolute tiniest of paper nicks goes about a third of the way into the top right margin. All of those extremely minor condition notes are offset by wonderful pen signatures, crispy never-pressed paper, and better than average margins. We feel that given the rarity, condition, and desirability of this banknote, our estimate of $50,000 - $75,000 could easily be topped when the bidding is over.
Date Sold: July 11th, 2015
Realized Price: $58500