About #174 - 5,000 dollars Type 1878
United States. United States Treasury. Large Size Legal Tender Notes. 1878 Issues. Watermark: No. Material: Paper. No security thread. Printer: Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), Washington. Front printing in yellow, red and black. Description of the front: On the left, a portrait of James Madison (1751-1836), American statesman and fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Two variants of seals: In the center in brown or in red and numbering with three stars in blue. The Act of March 3, 1863 is located in the top center. Ornamental frame with the value "5,000" and the text "UNITED STATES" repeating. A large black rosette with the number "5000" on the right. Only one signature combination known with the Register of the Treasury (Scofield) and the Treasurer of the United States (Gilfillan). Description of the back: In the center, the American eagle posed on the coat of arms of the United States. In the background, a view of the Washington Capitol. Value "5,000" vertically on the sides. Top left, the text of the law: “This Note is a Legal Tender…”. The banknote issuing company is listed at the bottom under the word “AMERICA”. The back is printed in blue-green. The photo note sold for $ 805,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2007!
Heritage Auctions comment: "Fr. 188 $5000 1878 Legal Tender PMG Very Fine 25. Certainly the key piece in this offering of Legal Tenders, and one of the key pieces in all of Federal currency. The Dauers have illustrated both sides of this note on page 142 of their American History As Seen Through Currency. Along with the photos comes the following caption: "All the $5,000 and $10,000 Legal Tender notes of 1878 have been redeemed and destroyed by the Treasury Department. The note above is a specimen furnished to the Chinese Government. Proof or specimen notes are usually either printed on cardboard or have a blank reverse. This note is printed on both sides and on legitimate currency paper. It is thus highly desired by collectors and it is the only surviving example of this design."
All of the above is wholly correct, but there is considerably more to tell. This note has only three minor differences from the regular issue: three stars fill each serial number box, each signature has three small cancels, and the Chinese Government presentation is overprinted between the signatures. Save for that, it is a totally legitimate piece of currency. It is also the only $5,000 Large Size note of any issue or design that is available to the collecting public. To our knowledge, there are no other Large Size notes of any denomination in this category. The note is more akin to a sample than a specimen. Whatever category you place this note in, it is an irreplaceable part of US currency history and the key to assembling a complete set of U.S. currency by Friedberg number. From The Dr. Edward & Joanne Dauer Collection".