First 1863 $5 Note Brings Top Dollar

The first 1863 $5 note printed under the National Banking Act of 1863 sold at auction for $220,000. The note with a serial number of "1" in red ink and a plate position mark of "A" depicts Christopher Columbus arriving in the New World on the front and back. The note had been kept in a bank envelope and was in pristine condition.

The owner's great-grandfather, William Spooner Huntingdon, was Cashier of the First National Bank of Washington, D.C., and his signature is on the rare note. Huntingdon began work at the bank as a clerk after being recommended by Pres. Abraham Lincoln. The family also has the note to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase written in the President's own hand stating: "Will the Sec. of Treas. Please look at the case of clerkship, of Wm. S. Huntingdon, on file in your department. A. Lincoln July 10, 1861."

"This is the ultimate National Bank note for a collector," said David Sundman of Littleton Coin Co. who first announced the note's existence at the Florida United Numismatics convention. "It's the number one 'number one.' There may still be many descendants of 19th century bankers who today own notes with low serial numbers that could be valuable."

The first 1863 note. The red serial number 1 is in the lower left by the left leg of the kneeling man. Huntingdon's signature is also in the lower left corner. The "A" to the left of "National Currency" denotes its position on the printing press plate.


Scenes on the back here and on the front are of Christopher Columbus in the New World.

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