It’s one of those rare times that — just maybe — it’s possible to turn $5 into $300,000. A rare bill that was proudly displayed in one family’s house in Pasadena, Calif. for decades is being put up for sale and is expected to fetch a whopping six figures.
The extremely rare, century-old bill features an image of former U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, who served from 1889 to 1893. The $5 bill is incredibly rare: out of the entire country, it was only issued by three banks in Alaska, for a brief period at the turn of the century. The note will go to auction through Heritage Auctions in Dallas and online as part of an event being sponsored by the American Numismatic Association.
In 1905 the bill was presented by the First National Bank in Alaska to Charles W. Fairbanks, Theodore Roosevelt’s vice president, who was best known for negotiating the end to a border dispute between Canada and the U.S. Since then, it’s been passed through several generations and is now in the hands of Charles Fairbanks IV, the great-grandson of the former statesman.
As the Associated Press reports:
According to [the auction house director], the Fairbanks bill was just one of four notes of its kind in the $5 denomination that were issued in 1905 by the Alaska bank, which was acquired by KeyCorp and became part of KeyBank. One of those bills sold 15 years ago for close to $100,000 and the market has “really picked up for the rarest pieces,” he said.
A third pristine bill is reportedly in storage at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks — a the town named for Charles Fairbanks IV’s ancestor. According to Angela Linn, a collections manager of ethnology and history, the bill being currently auctioned off by the family is also in excellent condition, although some minor restoration work had been done.