An important 1792 U.S. Federal bond, issued to and signed by George Washington while he was President, is the expected top lot in an auction slated for Oct. 19 and 22 by Archives International Auctions in New York City and Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The auction will be held on non-consecutive days. The Oct. 19 session will be conducted on the final day of the third annual Wall Street Coin, Currency & Collectibles Show, slated for Oct. 17-19 at the Museum of American Finance in New York City. The Oct. 22 session will be held in Archives International Auctions’ offices, at 1580 Lemoine Ave. (Ste. 7) in Fort Lee, N.J.
The Washington bond is part of the “Copps Collection”, a prestigious assemblage of U.S. colonial and Federal bonds, stocks and paper. The sale will also feature obsolete, fractional and large-type notes, many other rare banknotes, hundreds of U.S. and worldwide stocks and bonds, and autographed certificates by Daniel Drew, Buffalo Bill Cody, Thomas Edison and others.
But the Washington-signed bond is the undisputed highlight of the auction. “This is truly one of the finest rarities to surface on the scripophily market in many years,” said Dr. Robert Schwartz of Archives International Auctions. “It is of exceptional historical importance to the history of American capital markets and will be the centerpiece of a savvy bidder’s collection.”
Dr. Schwartz added, “These certificates were the first securities traded on the New York Stock Exchange after its founding in 1792, upon the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement, four months after this certificate was issued to Washington.” As for the other known examples, one is in the Museum of American Finance and the other in the George Washington University Library.
The bond being sold, signed on Jan. 17, 1792, measures 17 ¾ inches by 5 ½ inches. It was issued by the United States Loan Office, payable to “George Washington, Esq., of the County of Fairfax or his assigns, the sum of One Hundred and Twenty Three Dolars and Ninety Nine Cents assumed debt bearing interest at six percent per annum (beginning Jan. 1, 1801).”
It was the first loan issued under Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s plan for the Federal assumption of debt to liquidate the state and foreign debts under the newly-formed Federal government. As such, it must be considered as one of the most historically significant issues of any stock or bond in American financial history. Bidding for it is expected to be fierce.
Washington endorsed the bond: “I request the within debt may be carried to my credit on the books of the Treasury of the United States, Oct. 1st, 1974.” At its completion, the president boldy signs, “G. Washington.” (an aside: Washington very patriotically chose to leave his funds in the U.S. Treasury, as the country was in full crisis mode, dealing with the Whiskey Rebellion).
“That this important issue of American debt is represented by Washington personal certificate offers a truly superb opportunity for the collector of important historical rarities for the financial or presidential collector,” Dr. Schwartz remarked. “It’s the first one of its kind that we are aware of to be offered publicly. This is truly a chance to own a piece of American history.”
Over 1,000 lots of U.S. and worldwide banknotes, coins, scripophily (the collecting of stocks and bonds) and autographs will be sold over the course of the two days. The Museum of American Finance is located at 48 Wall Street in New York City, in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district. Archives International Auctions office, located in Fort Lee, N.J., is right across the George Washington Bridge from New York.
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