Rare 1890 Treasury Note ‘Grand Watermelon’ Sells For $2 Million At Auction

$1,000 Grand Watermelon Bill
National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History / Wikimedia Commons

A rare $1,000 bill has been sold at an auction for more than $2 million. According to Fox News, Auction house Stack’s Bowers Galleries sold the 1890 Treasury Note called a “Grand Watermelon” to an anonymous buyer for $2.04 million. The auction was held at the 2018 Winter Whitman Expo in Baltimore on Thursday evening.

The bill is called the Grand Watermelon because of the large green zeros on the back of the note that physically resemble large, juicy watermelons. Also described as the “Holy Grail of paper money,” the bill features Major General George Meade, the commander of Union forces at the Battle of Gettysburg. The note was federally issued from 1862 to 1863. The Treasury Department and the public, however, were reportedly not fans of the design, so steps were quickly taken to change it.

There are only seven known “Grand Watermelon” notes today, which makes it one of the rarest and most sought-after pieces in American paper currency, Stack’s Bowers President Brian Kendrella said in a statement. “This is one of only three known to exist in private collections and the finest example of its kind,” Kendrella said.

Stack’s Bower director of currency Peter Treglia said that the note is about 50 percent larger than current bills and is still legal tender.

The 1890 $1,000 Treasury Note depicts George Meade.
  National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution / Wikimedia Commons

Joel Anderson, a businessman, numismatic collector and philanthropist, who currently serves as chairman of the conglomerate Anderson Cos. offered the note. According to Barron’s, Anderson is personally involved in the sale of his collection through the Stack’s Bowers Galleries, and even attended the auction with his family. The sale is the third from his collection this year, which has so far fetched more than $26 million. Another sale is expected to take place either late this year or early 2019.

Four years ago, another Grand Watermelon note sold in Dallas for $3.29 million, making it the single most valuable piece of currency in the world. It far exceeded the initial estimate of $2 million. “This note is an icon of American financial history,” said Dustin Johnston, director of rare currency at Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which sold the note. “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 bill was sold to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous.