National Note Chronicles #2
Author: Sam Shafer - Wednesday May 30, 2018
For the history nerds, numismatists, and curiosity seekers--
Here is a very special note that I recently sold that for rarity alone is worthy a write-up!
The 1890's marked the height of the Victorian era when cities in the east exploded in a "melting pot" of immigrants and towering factories and crowded tenements. Mass production had swept up the masses of men women and children who sought for themselves a better life and those same individuals for whom this note would have represented a significant slice of wealth.
It was the start of this decade that Prague Oklahoma emerged as one of many Western towns that undoubtedly served as a beacon of opportunity for those families who had the means to move away from the claustrophobic cities of the east into the fertile plains where small communities had began pushing the Indian tribes off of their established land. Or at least living in a sort of uneasy peace with them. The first citizens of Prague were of Czech descent and to this day Prague celebrates Czech heritage with a festival that happens every May.
In 1902 the Passenger trains arrived in Prague and with the iron horses came modern civilization. Saloons on every corner, trade shops meat markets, lumber yards, 2 hotels, a pharmacy and many other places for the new citizens of Prague to find the store bought goods and services that made life on the plains profitable and comfortable. It's very likely that this very note crossed the counter of any number of the turn of the century stores in Prague. Cotton was a major crop in Prague and lots of money was made in 1904 when 200 bales were sold in a single day.
As the roaring twenties came and went and the depression of the 1930's cast a black cloud over the country, the First National Bank of Prague had to close its doors in 1935. At the time of closing the bank reported only $1480 in large notes still outstanding. This was a very small amount and it's not suprising that finding any example of a large size note is very difficult. In fact there are only 7 currently known of any denomination not including this potentially new discovery.
This beautiful note is a choice Fine to Very Fine with almost no issues aside from the expected crinkles and fold marks from it's time spent in the wallets and pockets of the citizens of Prague 100 years ago. It's difficult to assign a value to note like this because a $10 Plain Back has never sold publicly but a retail value would be somewhere around $800-1000 based on contextual clues including a $20 in slightly lesser grade that sold in auction for $860.
I'm happy to report that this note has been placed in an excellent long term collection near Prague and it's new custodian may even have it displayed for public viewing. I am very gratified by this outcome.
If you like this post and you like history, consider giving this hobby a shot if you haven't already. It's fun, it's therapeutic and it is a neat way to invest no matter what the budget is.