Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

$5 national banknote from 1892 highlights Bonhams Winter Coin auction

The Coins, Medals and Banknotes Department at Bonhams is pleased to announce the sale of a previously unreported $5 Series 1882 “Brown Back” National Banknote during its auction on December 13. The new discovery was issued on March 29, 1892 in the small city of Creede, Colorado (est. $70,000-90,000).

The First National Bank of Creede, Colorado was chartered March 29, 1892, the date of issue on this note, and only existed until December 31, 1895 when it was liquidated. In addition to the fact this is the only known example from Creede, it presents with bank serial number 1 and is accompanied with a paper envelope stating: “FIRST BILL ISSUED AT THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF CREEDE. SIGNED BY JOHN MCDONOUGH PR J.W. MERRITT CASHIER.” All currency from this bank, Charter 4716, was issued as $5 notes in vertical sheets containing four subjects. As of 1910, only $255 face appraise (total) was still outstanding making this issue virtually unobtainable, even then.

Creede is a small town in Colorado with a population of only 290 people in 2010, located in Mineral County in Southwestern region of the state. It became a “boom town” in 1889 when large amounts of silver were discovered in nearby Willow Creek. Creede’s boom lasted until 1893 when the Silver Panic overtook mining towns in Colorado. The price of silver plummeted and many of the silver mines were closed.
Colorado is a popular Western state for National Banknote collectors; many of the charters are considered scarce or rare. There are a number of unreported (unknown) issues, Creede previously being one. Collectors and connoisseurs alike will pay close attention as this note becomes available at Bonhams in December.

According to the consignor as told to Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Medals Department at Bonhams: “This note descended in the family of James Birss, who came to the US from Scotland in 1891, lived in Washington DC and then settled in Santa Barbara, CA. He was manager of the Johnson Fruit Company (later Sunkist), and was on the board of Citizens Savings and Loan in Santa Barbara. To our knowledge, our family did not have a connection to Creede, CO or to the First National Bank of Creede, Colorado.”
The illustrated auction catalog for the December 2012 sale will be available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at For more information about the department, please visit

New York Preview: December 11-13
Auction: December 13, New York