Sydney F. Martin might be best remembered in numismatic circles for his astounding collections of early American coinage, from which he produced groundbreaking research that stands as the authoritative reference material on a number of colonial series. Less known but still remarkable is Martin’s paper money collection, some of which will be offered in Part III of our sale of the Martin Collection, the opening session of our Spring 2023 Auction. One such note is featured in lot 1266, a Vermont two shillings and sixpence note of February 1781 that stands out for its remarkable state of preservation. It is special not only because of its condition, but also due to its incredible provenance to F.C.C. Boyd (where it was the finest Vermont note in his collection) and to the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection. As if that were not enough, it is the feature plate note in the fifth edition of Eric Newman’s Early Paper Money of America, 2008. It is graded Very Fine-30 by PCGS Currency and may be the finest survivor of this denomination.
Most of the extant Vermont colonial notes resemble what our cataloger calls “Frankenstein-like pastiches,” which is to say cobbled together from surviving fragments. Newman writes in The Early Paper Money of America that the notes were printed on “thin, weak paper” which, taken together with the single, small emission form which surviving notes originate, helps to explain the scarcity of high-quality, intact notes. Our cataloger, John Kraljevich, elaborates: “This one is a most unusual exception. The note is intact, never separated, never rejoined, never repaired. A few minor marginal splits are seen, along with a chip at the upper border. The longest of the splits reaches as far as the interior limit of the left border cut. An area of thinning to the lower left of F in ‘February’ appears to be as made. The signatures are bold, the printing is complete and even, and the eye appeal is uncommonly good for any note of this grade.”
Collectors of colonial paper money will be hard-pressed to find a finer Vermont note and opportunities to acquire a note of this quality do not come around often. Coupled with the Boyd-Ford- Martin provenance, this note will be a wonderful addition to a high-end colonial paper money collection.
View the paper money offered in The Sydney F. Martin Collection Part III. View the entire Sydney F. Martin Collection Part III.