The Unveiling of a Remarkable Rarity: Fr. 187k 1880 $1000 Legal Tender Note

In the world of paper money collecting, significant discoveries are few and far between. But every so often, a note emerges that rekindles the excitement of collectors and dealers alike. One such treasure is the Fr. 187k 1880 $1000 Legal Tender Note, an example of which is offered as lot 20115 in Session 2 of our August 2023 Global Showcase Auction.

The discovery of this remarkable note brings the total of known Fr. 187k examples to five, with only three accessible to the collecting public. The other two are held in the collections of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Smithsonian Institution.

The Fr. 187k displays engraved signatures of Treasury officials Vernon and Treat, and features a small red scalloped Treasury Seal in the bottom right corner. The intricate design elements, such as the depiction of Columbus and DeWitt Clinton, are boldly inked and framed by generous margins, adding to the note’s appeal. On the back, a vividly printed design showcases ornate details, accompanied by the Legal Tender clause and anti-counterfeiting language positioned on the left side.

The face of this note follows the style used in the Series of 1869 and 1878, with intriguing variations. The two vignettes on the face appear unrelated, but such artistic choices were not uncommon during this period. On the left side, we see Columbus in His Study, with a globe on the floor nearby. In the center is DeWitt Clinton, known for his role in completing the Erie Canal in 1825, with his hand touching the side of his head.

At first glance, the connection between these two figures may seem perplexing, but upon closer inspection, we find a shared theme – water-related achievements. Columbus, renowned for his transatlantic voyage leading to the “discovery” of America, and Clinton, the architect of the Erie Canal, both played crucial roles in advancing human exploration and connectivity through waterways. While seemingly unrelated, the juxtaposition of these vignettes offers an interesting perspective on the note’s design.

The emergence of this Fr. 187k 1880 $1000 Legal Tender Note marks a momentous discovery. Its rarity alone is enough to pique the interest of avid collectors, but its exquisite design and historical significance make it a true gem for currency enthusiasts. This elusive note offers a sense of connection to the past and the evolving landscape of American history. With its rarity, striking design, and historical relevance, this note stands as a testament to the artistry and significance of paper currency in the annals of history.

View our August 2023 Global Showcase Auction at To consign your numismatic items to this or another of our upcoming auctions, call 800-458-4646 or email [email protected].

Join our mailing list

Don't miss an auction!

Subscribe to our newsletter.


Contact Us

West Coast Office • (800) 458-4646

Midwest Office • (800) 817-2646

East Coast Office • (800) 566-2580

[email protected]

Hong Kong, China Office • +852 2117 1191

[email protected]

Copenhagen, Denmark • +45 80 40 49 42

[email protected]

Follow Us

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter

We are sorry, an unexpected error occurred!
Please enter a valid email address

I'm Interested In...

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Stack's Bowers Galleries e-newsletter.