Newnan, GA - Ch. 1861 - $2 Original Series
We are now pleased to offer what is unquestionably the greatest Georgia national bank note known to exist. It first came to our attention in March of this year when we were asked to advise as to the value of a group of paper money that had recently been found in North Georgia. The consignor tells us that his father, while not a focused currency collector, was known around town as someone who liked old and interesting things and would get offered items by locals who knew of his interests. The best guess is that he could have possibly purchased this note in the 1950s. It was consigned along with the two Newnan aces and a handful of other less valuable type notes, all of which date to the 1860-1900 time period. It is our understanding that there was absolutely no knowledge of this note's existence until this year. That is truly amazing when you consider that the note is now over 140 years old and has lived at least the past several decades of its life just a stone's throw away from the mecca of Southern numismatics, Dalton, Georgia.
This note was the subject of the headline story in the June Bank Note Reporter by Peter Huntoon, and we will summarize the highlights of his article later on. But I think what is so important about this note is the fact that you can point to this as the absolute best note from the state of Georgia. So often, as nationals collectors often do when left alone in a small group, we turn to conversations about what is the best note from a certain state. And anyone who has participated in such a conversation knows that for just about every state the list ends up with a few contenders but there is rarely a definitive "best" note. In fact, before this deuce trumped everything else, there were a wide range of possible best notes for Georgia like the unique Senoia red seal, the #1 Atlanta brown back, or the #1 red seal on Fort Valley. Sadly, for the instigators and devil's advocates out there, the debate about the best Georgia national has come to a firm resounding conclusion...it's this note!
A mere 12,600 $2 national banknotes were issued by Georgia banks; the majority of the new deuce orders were to replace ones that had been worn out and redeemed. So there were certainly never 12,600 outstanding at any one time. The number was likely closer to several hundred. The banks that issued lazy deuces were in Americus, Athens, Atlanta, Griffin, and Newnan. No single bank issued more than 3400 or less than 1500 notes. The issuance period was only 1866 to 1878. So we are talking about a thirteen year span when the South was desperately poor and in shambles. It is no surprise that there weren't even any whispers about lazy deuces out there. There was really no reason to have hope. There have been several advanced collections of Georgia national banknotes built and dispersed by collectors with means and connections, and none of them could find a deuce.
The list of states and territories that issued $2 notes for which none are reported is down to just Arkansas, South Carolina, and Virginia. That puts this note in the same ranks as the unique deuces from Alabama, Idaho Territory, Texas, and Wyoming Territory. What is most exciting about the note being offered here is the simple fact that it is available for anyone to buy. Even the semi-unique deuces from Dakota Territory, Louisiana, and West Virginia haven't been available at auction in the modern post-2000 era. The auction market hasn't been tested for a truly one of kind deuce like this. Our estimate is just a moderately conservative estimate of what similarly rare items should be worth if they were ever discovered and offered for sale in a public setting.
In terms of condition, this piece does have a tiny upper and left margin split, both of which stop at the design. No pinholes, paper pulls, rust, or repairs are present. It is in amazingly good condition for a note of its age and origination. From Huntoon's article: "William B. Berry, signer as president of the deuce, was the organizer of the bank. His father Andrew J. Berry was an early settler who built the first house in Newnan in 1828 and owned a large cotton plantation with numerous slaves. William emerged as a leading businessman and judge who served as president of The First National Bank from 1871 to 1893. Cashier Lodowick. J. Hill, who served at the bank from 1871 through 1876, moved on to become the president of The Gate City National Bank of Atlanta when that bank was organized in 1879. He continued in that capacity until the bank was liquidated in 1893." If you focus on the best of the best in national banknotes, Georgia paper money, or just Georgia history, then this is likely a once in a lifetime chance to acquire what was until today only a fantasy note.
Date Sold: July 11th, 2015
Realized Price: $58500