1890 “Grand Watermelon” Note Brings World Record $3.29 Million at Heritage Auctions

1890 Small Seal Grand Watermelon - front.jpg

DALLAS—The rarest and most famous of all U.S. currency notes, the legendary 1890 $1,000 Treasury Note, popularly referred to as the “Grand Watermelon note”—due to the design of the large zeroes on the reversed side of the bill, resembling watermelons—became the single most valuable piece of currency in existence when it sold for $3,290,000 on Friday, Jan. 10, far exceeding its pre-auction estimate of $2 million.

It was sold by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions as part of the company’s Florida United Numismatics (FUN) Convention Rare Currency Auction in Orlando, FL, part of a series of auctions the firm conducted last week that have grossed more than $105 million total, the largest numismatic auction in history.

The last time this note was offered at auction was in 1970, where it brought $11,000.

1890 Small Seal Grand Watermelon  - reverse.jpg

“This note is an icon of American financial history—and is the only known example in private hands—we knew something extraordinary was possible,” said Dustin Johnston, Director of Rare Currency at Heritage Auctions. “Collectors knew this was not a chance that was going to come around again anytime soon, and they bid accordingly. The result being that this beautiful little piece of paper is now the most valuable of its kind in the world and has a new chapter to add to its legend.”

The note sold to a private collector that wished to remain anonymous.

Also topping the seven-figure mark in the auction was a unique 1882 $500 Gold Certificate, which was also the subject of very spirited bidding before it finished at $1,410,000.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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