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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:20 am 
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Some months ago when I was accumulating proofs from banks in TN I decided to find out how many such proofs of each denomination were sold in the 1990 Christies auction. So I sifted through the Christies catalog and found all references to TN banknotes and put them into a database.

Now I have decided to expand that project to include all of the states notes. Though the auction catalog is laid out by state, there are a number of lots that included sheets from other states (because they were mounted on opposite sides of a card, I believe).

The objective of this project is to ultimately end up with a spreadsheet (or perhaps a SQL database) that lists all of the banks and types of notes with a number of each donomination that was sold at that auction. This, I believe, will become a foundation upon which to build an expanded database that can be used to determine the rarity of each type of obsolete proof note.

My spreadsheet is broken down int individual state worksheets, and each worksheet contains at a minimum the following columns:
  • City
  • Bank/Company Name
  • Alternate Reference ID
  • Haxby Number
  • a column for each denomination from smallest to largest
  • a column for notes, usually including type of note (demand, CD, exchange, post), printer initials, condition, etc

The Christies catalog is over 300 pages long, and it takes a while to carefully process each entry, so I'm expecting this will take over 150 hours to complete. Once all the data is entered I will "clean it up" (sort any unsorted items, combine those that should be combined, make certain references are consistent, etc) and then consider putting it in SQL database form.

- Greg


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:19 pm 
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Greg,

Since NY is my favorite obsolete state, I offer to do NY - about 50 pages. Maybe others will also volunteer to reduce your 150-hour load?

A few questions/comments:

1. Keeping it in Excel makes it much more accessible. Sorting etc. is much easier. More people have Excel. Few deal with database programs.

2. As you say the 1990 Christie’s auction catalog is a good start. However, there were many other proofs on the market before this sale. Haxby came out before Christie’s sale but lists many proofs. How can we get a handle on these? Does anyone know how these proofs came onto the market?

3. The Christie’s catalog is getting to be rather expensive. It would be nice to have a scanned copy of it in PDF format? However, there are probably copyright issues. I never got a “prices realized” list. If you have one, could I get a copy?

4. Most of the rarity of the proofs would be established by the catalog. However, it would also be interesting to relate number of proofs to availability of issued and remainder notes to maybe establish value?

5. I don’t totally understand your desired format. It might be useful to post an Excel spreadsheet that shows the format. Maybe even your TN results to see how useful it might be?

6. I just reread the forward to the catalog. It claims that the proofs in the sale represent ALL of the archival proofs. In addition, the plates will remain the property of the United States Banknote Corp. and that no further impressions will be made. How times change! We can now own the plates and in principle there is nothing that prevents new private impressions being made from these plates.

Bernie


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:46 pm 
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Bernie,

I welcome your assistance. Attached is the current version of the spreadsheet. You'll see the states listed across the bottom. Most have the same basic headers... there will be some customization for each state. The alternate ID for TN notes is Garland, for AL notes it's Rosene... I don't know what other alternate references exist. If the default denominations are inadequate, fee free to add more as needed.

My coding on the Haxby reference numbers is probably not completely obvious, so I'll explain. If a lot contained 6 denominations, I list the Haxby type numbers in the order of increasing denomination (i.e. same as the headers). If some notes are listed and others aren't, I put UNL in the slots where the notes are unlisted. That way when I look at the available denominations I can line them up with Haxby numbers. If no Haxby numbers are listed I just put Unlisted in the box, so it's clear I didn't just overlook the numbers.

I'm trying to capture all of the information in the catalog, even if it doesn't necessarily align with my interests. So if I see some Post Notes that are partial prints with no bank/company name, I capture them as best I can in the appropriate state's worksheet. That's the sort of stuff I'll try to sort out later, possible putting them into a Misc worksheet.

Like you, I got the catalog without the prices realized. While I find that information interesting, it isn't something I'm interested in tracking, per se.

As an aside, I do have some slight ancillary information... a few notes from the H.R. Harmer sale last year, for example. My concern with the ancillary information is that in most cases I have no obvious way to discern which of the ancillary notes are already represented in the Christies catalog (i.e. which were sold as sheets and cut up for resale as individual notes). So I'll start with Christies and carefully add whatever is obviously not as described by Christies (i.e. missing the pink stamp when Christies says it is there, or otherwise different enough to be regarded as not the same notes). To your question, I'm not sure how to handle the pre-Christies notes... since in general I don't have a way of knowing whether the note came BC or AC. ;)

Thanks for the offer of assistance. It is truly appreciated.

- Greg


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Obsolete Proofs.xls [56.5 KiB]
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:23 pm 
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Greg,

Here is an example of a pre Christie’s TN proof. Haxby’s book (issued in 1988) only lists TN-235-G4 in Proof condition with a value of $250. The first image below probably is this note. Are there others? Notice that it does NOT have a card backing. It probably also does not have the pink ABNC on the back. At least the image does not show the typical bleed through of the pink to the front of the note. This note sold in the July 2007 Smythe auction for $1840.

The second image is also a TN-235-G4 proof that is probably the one that came from the 1990 Christie’s sale. Christie’s sold this as a whole sheet $1-2-5-5 with an estimate of $250-350. I don’t know what it sold for but I sure wish I could have been there. This note sold in the December 2003 Early American auction for $1560. Notice that the proof is mounted on card, as the one specified in Christie’s catalog. It does NOT have the pink ABNC on the back! I suspect that most of the sheets sold at Christie’s are now cut up.

The central vignette shows a beautiful engraving of the suspension bridge across the Ohio River at Wheeling that was designed by Charles Ellet in the mid 1840’s. This vignette of the bridge shows up on at least 3 other obsoletes, including on the $3 note from the Bank of Nashville. The bridge itself is still standing today. See my photo of the bridge. Modern vegetation and structures made it difficult to obtain a good picture of the whole bridge. More about these notes later.

Bernie


Attachments:
BofTrentonHaxbyProof.jpg
BofTrentonHaxbyProof.jpg [ 136.47 KiB | Viewed 12346 times ]
BofTrentonChristies.jpg
BofTrentonChristies.jpg [ 161.77 KiB | Viewed 12346 times ]
WheelingBridgePic2.jpg
WheelingBridgePic2.jpg [ 161.72 KiB | Viewed 12328 times ]
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:24 pm 
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Greg,

To get the hang of things, I tried to reproduce your TN-15 notes and ran into several problems.

You got:

TN-15-G60a,G62a
TN-15-G60b,G62b
TN-15-G64a,G66,G68
TN-15-G64a,G66,G68 w/o OP

Whereas I got:

60a,62a
60b,62b but green tint, diff imprint
64a,66(but red OP),68(but red OP)
64a,66,68 all w/o OP

So some comments/questions:

1. This spreadsheet as composed will loose all information on sheet composition that is present in Christie’s catalog. Since most sheets are now cut up anyway this is probably OK?

2. Notice that I have not entered TN for every note. This could save a lot of typing since the whole TN sheet is TN. One could add a TN column that could later be concatenated with a macro? I also did not enter the bank number 15 – a separate column?

3. How do we handle the tint colors, protector colors, no protector, overprints, and imprints? The proof notes differ greatly in these colors or presence versus lack of OP? Many times they differ from the ones mentioned in Haxby. Even looking at Haxby and Christie’s, it still gets confusing. We could ignore all overprint information? However, Haxby has separate small letters for these kinds of differences? We could ignore the “small letter” varieites and concentrate on the face-different proofs?

4. According to Haxby, 60a has a “red FIVE overprint” whereas 60b has an “ochre tint composed of lathe work overall and a panel of micro lettering with an outlined white FIVE”. 60a has the BB&C, BC imprint while 60b has the ABN imprint. Christie’s lot 1875 for the Clarksville notes illustrates the problem. That is, the second sheet has a note similar to 60b except a different imprint and a green tint. Likewise for 66 and 68. If Haxby knew the details of the proofs in the ABNC archive would he have added more “small letter” varieties to his catalog?

If we ignored the overprints we would reduce the above 4 rows to one row:

60,62,64,66,68

However, some of the modern proofs are distinguished via the overprints.

So what are your thoughts?

Bernie


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:03 am 
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Bernie,

My original purpose for the data was to aid in understanding the rarity of individual varieties of proofs. I believe (as you stated) that most of the sheets have been cut up into individual notes, so one may safely presume that sheets are considerably more rare now than they were at the time of the 1990 sale. I doubt there is any practical way to definitively determine how many sheets remain uncut, but if we worked to retain the sheet information we might be able to calculate an estimated maximum number (based on the number of single notes from that type of sheet have been encountered).

As for the Haxby number, I felt it was important to capture the whole thing for reasons that don't become obvious until you get deeper into the data. As a programmer I like splitting the parts into pieces, but as a spreadsheet user I'll be better served if they are left together, I think. I'm trying to consider how unsophisticated users might sort the list to get to a specific bit of information (short of using pivot tables).

Regarding the tint and overprint information, I'm trying to capture that, but frankly the catalog is inconsistent in the presentation of that information, sometimes being very accurate and sometimes vague. I'm processing AL notes now, and in one bank there were 51 proofs of a $500 note, and some of them were sold in large group lots (one lot of 19, one of 20). Those group lots were certainly not described in detail as to which had a certain tint and which had overprints (and of what color). Frankly it's a bit frustrating. But as much as I can, I'm separating things out so that the undertint and overprint information is preserved. That's why you will see multiple lines with the same Haxby numbers in some cases. In other cases I determined that the differences described were not significant enough to warrant tracking them separately because I could preserve the difference information in the Notes column. If you see notations (in the Haxby section or the notes) "w/o OP" that means without overprint.

By the way, I noted that you also dropped the leading G in the Haxby number. In the AL notes there were a few with a leading A, so my advice would be to capture the G rather than let it be assumed. Herein lies one of my concerns... when you pare things back too far during the early data capture effort you may create additional work for yourself later when you encounter something unexpected.

As an aside, the TN data has been through about two "reductions", which may explain some of the confusion you have. Be advised also that I got some information from someone who worked on the catalog previously about TN notes in other sections of the catalog (i.e. the sheets on the reverse sides of the notes being auctioned in that lot). This will account for some of the discrepancies you might encounter trying to reproduce my numbers. The other discrepancies may be due to the reduction efforts (in which I combined like Haxby numbers and moved the differential information into the Notes section).

Ultimately, I'd say do with the NY section whatever makes sense to you.... but consider the points raised above when you make your decisions.

- Greg


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:09 am 
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Greg,

My reason for limiting the full Haxby number was to save time on typing. I think I have found a way to limit the typing by doing it my way and then applying string operations to get to your results.

I am surprised that you found non-G Haxby numbers in Christie’s catalog. So the archives have “altered plates”? That would make an interesting story. Can you give me some lot numbers? I thought that most, if not all, altered notes were hand processed. I have several Buffalo notes that show different stages of hand processing.

I can also add the “G” by replacing the “,” with “,G” being careful on the use of the “,”.

Although it will probably take more than double the time, I will try to capture the OP information and correlate it with the Haxby catalog. The biggest problem I found with this was that so many of the ABNC proofs have tints etc. that are not represented by Haxby numbers.

Bernie


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:30 pm 
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Bernie wrote:
I am surprised that you found non-G Haxby numbers in Christie’s catalog. So the archives have “altered plates”? That would make an interesting story. Can you give me some lot numbers?


Lot 20, first sheet on the description.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:11 pm 
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Greg,

This is really interesting since it closely relates to an exhibit that I am preparing.

Haxby has an image of the $5 note AL-65-A9 and says that it is altered from the $5 note of the Central Bank of TN, TN-30, Design 5A. The number here is actually wrong. It should be TN-140 instead of TN-30. Although the Haxby images are not the greatest, the only change that I see is “ALABAMA” for “TENNESSEE”. As mentioned in Christie’s catalog, Haxby lists the $10 and $20 AL notes as SENC and speculates that these notes were not malicious alterations. That is, it was a way to save money by using the same plates and merely changing the name of the state.

In my study, I track the evolution of a printing plate from the Zimmerman Bank to the Bank of Clifton to the Farmers and Mechanics Bank of DE. The plate actually went through at least 6 versions (alterations). Most were relatively minor, e.g. bank name, plate letters, engraved signatures, etc. However when it changed from a Canadian bank to the US bank, several vignettes were changed including busts of Queen Victoria to Thomas Jefferson. The exhibit will show all of the notes through the plate evolution and the final plate from the DE bank.

I was thinking of showing this at either Memphis or Otawa. Will you be at Memphis?

Bernie


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:51 pm 
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I haven't decided about Memphis. This is feeling like a bad year to do that show. Maybe next year will be better.

- Greg


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:38 pm 
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Greg,

I don’t know if you are aware of Spink’s December 1997 auction catalog. It contains many lots from the archives of the British American Banknote Co in addition to lots from the Amon Carter Collection. Although most of the lots are for Canadian (and other foreign countries) sheets, it does contain about 100 sheets of US obsoletes. Maybe I can add these to the spreadsheet?

Bernie


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:27 pm 
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Please do. I was unaware of that auction... In fact, the only two I really knew about were Christies and H.R. Harmer. I'll add the Harmer content, since I went to that auction. There isn't much of it anyway.

- Greg


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:16 pm 
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Greg,

We probably should have a symbol for these additions.
Say H for Harmer and S for Spink.
Maybe put it in the notes column?

Bernie


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:13 am 
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Good thinking. But if we do that then I'd think we'd need to mark the Christie's entries as well.

Let's think about this some more. We don't have to decide right now. We've still got work ahead of us before we finish the Christie's listings.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:46 am 
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This is going more slowly than I anticipated. The last few days I've put a couple of hours into this and only managed to get 55 lots converted. I'm now mid-way through CT. The good news is I feel pretty good about the project at this stage and am enthusiastic to continue. The bad news is that I'm heavily distracted by my wife's health issues and by my day job. It will get done, but it may take longer than I previously expected, both in terms of work hours and calendar days.

By the way, if you can think of any other sources of information, I'd love to know about it. I remember Christies ran a second sale in November 1990 that did the foreign currency proofs (including Hawaiian Republic notes). I'm not including those at this time, but if there was any interest on anyone else's part I think that would be a welcome addition.

- Greg


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