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The William Kelly Confederate Paper Money Sale – The Main Body of His Collection


I attended the William H. Kelly Confederate paper money sale held in conjunction with the FUN show in Orlando. Heritage auctions conducted the sale on Thursday night, January 5, 2012.

William Kelly collected over the last quarter century of the 20th century focusing on building four complete Confederate money type sets, building eight sets of Montgomery notes, and adding a number of major rare varieties to his collection – making the Kelly collection one of the major collections offered (both publicly and privately) over the past century. Indeed, the hallmark of this sale was the 32 Montgomery notes – eight of each type ($1000, $500, $100, $50) – a quantity never before offered in one sale. The last major sales of Confederate notes were the Western Reserve sale and Mayer sale of Montgomery notes (13 examples) in 2007. The Western Reserve sale was noted for its breadth and depth in rare varieties and variety scope in general. The Kelly sale was noted for Montgomery notes. An aside, it would be interesting to conduct a whist match between Kelly’s collection and the Western Reserve Collection sold in 2007. I believe Kelly realized more money, but the Western Reserve collection would win the whist match due to completeness and larger spread of different rarities. Both are great collections in their own right!

This sale would give us an idea of what mid-grade type as well as some better type notes that were cancelled or had problems would go for at auction. However, due to 32 Montgomery notes, many players’ finances were constrained for the rest of the sale which would impact prices realized at this particular moment in time as well as sales of Confederate money on the bourse floor.

Like all major currency offered in Heritage sales, these Confederate notes were third party graded, in this case primarily by PCGS. I generally like PCGS as the more consistent third party graders of the major two firms. I still like CC&A the best for being the most conservative and using collector-oriented grading, however, PCGS is quite respectable. They’ve become quite adept at grading uncirculated notes as well as detecting problems and repairs. I disagree with their definition of VF – most of their F-15 to VF-30 notes grade somewhat lower on the collector-oriented scale. They also use “Choice” to mean something different than eye appeal – they use it to designate a note with less circulation than the base grade, but too much to make the next higher grade. Most collectors view “Choice” as a note with superior cut and eye appeal as documented in Collecting Confederate Paper Money – Field Edition 2008 by Pierre Fricke (me). This will be reflected below where I give my grade and PCGS’s grade.

16267. T-5 PF-1 PCGS Extremely Fine 45 PPQ. This note was pressed and had too many faint folds for XF. Very Fine, plus. $2,185

16268. T-5 PF-1 PCGS Very Fine 35 Apparent. About Very Fine. Cancellations repaired, net Fine.
$1,150

16270. T-6 PF-1 PCGS New 62 PPQ. Uncirculated, plus. $2,530

16271. T-6 PF-1 PCGS New 61 Apparent. Not Unc, but AU with edge repairs, net VF.
$2,185

16276. T-7 PF-4. PCGS Choice New 63. Choice Uncirculated to me. Nice and it went really cheap!
$3,220

16279. T-7 PF-4. PMG Very Fine 25 Net. About Very Fine, net Fine, plus. Some rust/staining, minor.
$1,725

16280. T-8 PF-2. PCGS New 62. Uncirculated, plus. Nice. $ 690

16281. T-8 PF-8. PCGS AU 58 PPQ. Choice AU+. Better than the Unc note. $ 805

16282. T-9 PF-2 Rare double for Treasr. PCGS New 62. Uncirculated, plus. Went cheap! $1,495

16284. T-10 PF-16. PCGS Very Fine 25. Choice Fine to Very Fine. $1,495

16286. T-11 PF-4. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent. F-VF, net Fine. Good buy. $6,900

16291. T-12 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent. F-VF to me. Another good buy. $3,450

16293. T-12 PF-1. PCGS Fine 15 Apparent. Fine, net G-VG. $1,150

16301. T-15 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 35 Apparent. VF-XF-CC, mounting on back. Trimmed into margin at lower right. Not a bad CC note and I believe these are undervalued for nice eye appeal. Opportunity to get a high grade T-15 cheap. $2,760

16302. T-15 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 35, COC. VF+-COC to me. $1,955

16303. T-15 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent, CC. Fine, plus-cut-cancelled. $2,760

16305. T-16 PF-10 Whatman. PMG Very Fine 30. VF, plus. A steal. $ 519

16308. T-17 PF-2. PCGS Very Fine 25. F-VF to me. $1,035

16310. T-19 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 30 Apparent. F-VF, net Fine. Too cheap. $2,300

16312. T-19 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25 cut-out cancelled. Fine, plus-COC. $ 891

16314. T-19 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent. About VF, net Fine. Repaired. $1,840

16316. T-20 PF-9. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent. F-VF, net Fine. $ 288

16317. T-20 PF-13 Uncut sheet of 10 notes. VF $4,025

16318. T-22 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 35. Very Fine, plus. Nice and good buy! $1,495

16320. T-22 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 30 PPQ. Choice About VF to me. Another steal. $1,725

16324. T-22 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25. F-VF. $1,265

16328. T-23 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 30. VF to me. $4,313

16332. T-23 PF-3 Rare. PCGS Very Fine 25. F-VF. $5,175

16337. T-24 PF-1 “Reoeivable” error. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent. F-VF-CC. This error is actually a “C” that is virtually closed and bleeds together. It appears on several different varieties of T-24 and no longer commands a significant premium. $ 403

16339. T-27 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 20. Fine, plus. Trimmed into margin upper right. Much better than most and a rare opportunity. Went cheap… Rarest Type by census though closing in on T-2.
$18,975

16341. T-27 PF-1. PCGS Fine 12 Apparent, CC. Fine-CC. Trimmed into upper margin. A good buy.
$10,350

16342. T-27 PF-1. PCGS Very Good 10, COC. VG-COC. Great opportunity to get a T-27 for less than $5K that is decent. Most (including me) had spent all their money by this point! $4,025

16343. T-29 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 35, CC. VF-CC and pressed. Nice color. $ 575

16346. T-31 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25 PPQ. F-VF to me. $1,840

16347. T-31 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25. VF, net F-VF. $1,093

16349. T-32 PF-2. PCGS Extremely Fine 40 PPQ. XF. Rare this nice. Cheap! $5,750

16352. T-32 PF-2. PCGS Fine 15 Apparent. Pen cancelled and major repairs. G-VG to me.
This is the infamous T-32A in Criswell’s 1996 book with black underprint. There are several problems with this listing in his book. A true, original black overprint would be a T-32 PF-4 new variety, not a new type. But worse, this black overprint was added post War. Rationale – The underprint was nearly pristine, Uncirculated… on a Good to Very Good note. I compared it to the XF T-32 orange underprint in lot 16349 under 10x magnification. The XF note underprint had more wear on it than this G-VG black did! Further, the signatures appeared to be under the black underprint where on the orange note they were clearly above the underprint. Still an interesting post-War curiousity and worth something on a historical basis. Not $29,000 hammer, though.

16355. T-33 PF-8 State II. Rare. PCGS Very Fine 30 Apparent. About Very Fine. Cheap.
$ 575

16360. T-35 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent, COC. Fine, plus, net VG-F-COC to me.
$9,775

16361. T-35 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 25 Apparent. F-VF, net Fine. About right. $32,200

16362. T-35 PF-1. PCGS Fine 12 Apparent. Very Good, plus, net G-VG. $13,225

16364. T-38 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 20. Fine, plus to me. Nice. $4,025

16366. T-38 PF-1. PCGS Fine 12 Apparent. Very Good. $ 633

16369. T-39 PF-9 Military issue – Wharton. PMG 62. AU to me. A more common military issue. $ 546

16370. T-39 PF-16. Military issue – Tilton. PCGS New 61. Unc. A more common military issue.
$ 403

16371. T-39 PF-1. James Miller Depositary in Wilmington NC. PCGS Extremely Fine 45 Apparent. XF to me. $ 431

16373. T-40 PF-5. P. B. Bird. 2 known. PMG Very Fine 30. VF to me. Cheap. $ 518

16374. T-41 PF-11. PCGS Gem New 66 PPQ. Gem Unc. Cheap compared to recent prices realized. $ 460

16382. T-41 PF-5. Houston reissue. PCGS Choice New 63 PPQ. Choice Unc. $ 575

16383. T-41 PF-4. Wookey Hole Mill. PCGS New 62 PPQ. Unc. A record price. $5,463

16384. T-41 PF-10 (really a PF-53 1863). Military – Ragan. PCGS New 62. Unc. 1863 notes are underrated in my 2008 book. A more common military issuer. $ 345

16386. T-41 PF-18 (really a PF-52 1863 and much rarer). Whatman. PCGS AU 58 PPQ. Choice AU+. Miscataloging allowed this to go cheap. $ 690

16387. T-41 PF-12. Miltary issue – Glover. PCGS AU 58. Choice AU+. A common military issuer.
$ 374

16388. T-41 PF-2. PCGS AU 55 PPQ. AU to me. Underrated in my 2008 book. $ 345

16389. Post War “Z” added. Did not sell.

16390. T-41 PF-15 (really a PF-56 1863). Military – Paxton. PCGS AU 53. AU. A common military issuer. Another underrated 1863 note. $ 374

16391. T-41 PF-64. Whatman with T in 1863. Extremely rare! PCGS XF 45 PPQ. XF to me.
$1,840

16393. T-41 PF-20 (really a PF-59 1863). Subsistence dept payment. Ludington. Rare. PCGS XF 45. Choice XF. Good buy. $ 546

16394. T-41 PF-3. Rare. PCGS XF 45. XF to me. $3,450

16396. T-41 PF-25. Little Rock issue. Rare. PCGS Very Fine 35 Apparent. VF-XF. Good buy.
$ 575

16397. T-41 PF-12. Military – Severson. PCGS Very Fine 30 Apparent. Common military note.
$ 431

16399. T-41 PF-14. Wookey Hole Mill. PCGS Very Fine 30. About VF. Record price.
$4,025

16401. T-41 PF-22. Military – Thomason. Rare. PCGS Very Fine 20 Apparent. F-VF, net VG-F.
$ 518

16402. T-41 PF-23 (really a PF-62 1863). Military – Harris. Rare. PCGS Very Fine 25.
$ 575

16403. T-41 PF-11. Military – Russell. Rare. PMG Very Fine 35 EPQ. VF-XF. $1,380

16404. T-43 PF-1. PCGS Very Fine 30. F-VF to me. $1,093

16405. T-45 PF-1. PCGS AU 58 PPQ. Choice AU++. $2,185

16407. XX-2 T-47 PF-1. PCGS VF 30. VF to me. $5,750

16408. XX-3 T-48. PCGS Very Fine 20 Apparent. F-VF. $7,475

16409. T-50 PF-18 Double Ratification error. PMG Very Fine 25. About VF. A steal and underrated.
$1,955

16410. T-51 PF-13 Double transfer error. PMG Fine 15 Net. F-VF, net F $ 345

16411. T-52 PF-9IB. Inverted back. Commonest IB. PCGS AU 50. AU, net XF. Strong price.
$2,300

16412. T-52 PF21IB. Inverted back. Rare. PCGS Very Fine 20. Fine, plus. Good buy.
$2,415

16416. T-59 PF-24. Double date stamp error. PCGS Very Fine 30. VF. $ 288

16417. T-59 PF-12IB. Inverted back. Double date stamp error. PCGS Very Fine 25 PPQ. F-VF. A steal. $2,990

16420. T-64 PF-1 (really PF-3 dark red). PCGS AU 58 PPQ. AU, choice color. $1,495

A good number of the notes in this section were not Kelly’s notes, especially a lot of the T-39-41 miliatry issuers. There were a couple of records set for price. Both T-41 Wookey Hole Mill notes set new records. The T-52 PF-9IB inverted back was a record as well. One of the military notes over $1,000 was a new record (at least publicly). However, there were a lot of really good deals in this section as a lot of money had been drained from the community by the 32 Montgomery notes. There were a lot more notes in the Internet only section that sold after the FUN show ended. There were some really good buys there too.

I congratulate Bill Kelly for putting together a great collection and allowing us to have the opportunity to acquire some of these notes.

Have fun and enjoy!

Pierre Fricke