A $5 bill cost a Missouri bidder nearly $4,500 Friday.
The bill was designed in 1882 and printed by the First National Bank of Washington, Missouri, between 1900 and 1932. A century later, the bill collected 900 times its original worth at a Scotsman Coin & Jewelry auction.
“There’s probably only a handful of them out there, eight or 10 out there known in existence left, so it’s a pretty rare piece,” said JL Laws, paper money expert for Scotsman Coin.
Both the seller and the buyer were anonymous, but the sales taxes showed the buyer’s state of origin as Missouri.
The hammered price for the bill was $3,800, according to Scotsman Coin’s website. Including the auctioneer’s fees, it cost the buyer $4,484.
The predicted sale price had been between $3,800 and $4,200. A total of 60 people were present for the auction, but Laws said it was impossible to know how many of them put bids on the note.
“Whoever got it got a great deal on it,” he said. “It will definitely appreciate in value.”
Laws said that 10 years ago, he probably could have sold the bill for around $10,000, but demand has decreased and therefore so has the price.
“There were a lot of people who were buying these things as investments back in 2004, 2006,” he said.
In 2015, an 1882 dated $10 bill also printed by First National Bank of Washington sold for $5,640, including fees, according to Len Augsberger, project coordinator of the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis, and the university’s library database.
In 2010, a $20 bill from 1882 with a very fine grade sold for $11,500 including fees, according to the database.
Some bills are rarer than others. A St. Louis-printed bill in the same condition as the $5 bill at the July 23 sale could go for $250, Laws said.
Others, including bills coming from places such as Montana that had sparse populations and therefore less printed currency, would sell at higher prices. Novelty bills, such as ones from Blue Balls, Pennsylvania, tend to sell for more as well, Laws said.
“People collect by the town they’re from, or sometimes they collect (bills) because they might have been related to somebody there or something like that, so there are a lot of reasons,” he said.
Arron Hustead contributed to this report.