Neil S Berman
Expert Numismatist & Rare Coin and Currency Dealer
Fr. 188 $5000 1878 Legal Tender PMG Very Fine 25.
Certainly the key piece in this offering of Legal Tenders, and one of the key pieces in all of Federal currency. The Dauers have illustrated both sides of this note on page 142 of their American History As Seen Through Currency. Along with the photos comes the following caption: "All the $5,000 and $10,000 Legal Tender notes of 1878 have been redeemed and destroyed by the Treasury Department. The note above is a specimen furnished to the Chinese Government. Proof or specimen notes are usually either printed on cardboard or have a blank reverse. This note is printed on both sides and on legitimate currency paper. It is thus highly desired by collectors and it is the only surviving example of this design."
All of the above is wholly correct, but there is considerably more to tell. This note has only three minor differences from the regular issue: three stars fill each serial number box, each signature has three small cancels, and the Chinese Government presentation is overprinted between the signatures. Save for that, it is a totally legitimate piece of currency. It is also the only $5,000 Large Size note of any issue or design that is available to the collecting public. To our knowledge, there are no other Large Size notes of any denomination in this category. The note is more akin to a sample than a specimen. Whatever category you place this note in, it is an irreplaceable part of US currency history and the key to assembling a complete set of U.S. currency by Friedberg number.
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Neil S. Berman is an expert numismatist and a dealer in rare coins and currency. His business is located in Westchester County NY. For professional advice about most collectables contact Neil. Comments and questions are welcome.