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Prohibitively Rare 1894 1 Dollar British Honduras Note

Only
a note that is this important could get us this excited! Stack’s Bowers
Galleries is very pleased to present this first issue British Honduras One
Dollar note in its first ever public offering. It has been in private hands
since the mid-1890s, after which it was passed down through subsequent
generations.

The
1894 British Honduras One Dollar issued notes are prohibitively rare: only
three pieces are known, including this one. The other two are the Pick plate
note, which is in abysmal condition, and one in private hands which is reputed
to be part of an unprecedented, private British Honduras collection. No issued
example of any of the five higher values has ever come to light.

First
issue British Honduras notes in any form are conspicuously absent from
virtually all of the world’s greatest collections. This issued 1894 example
clearly rivals in rarity, exclusivity, and desirability even such major pieces
as the much-vaunted Zanzibar notes. The 1894 British Honduras issue was
withdrawn and destroyed after only two months, while the Zanzibar series ran
for 20 years. The note issuance for British Honduras was scaled for an
insignificant colonial backwater with a minuscule population and economy, while
for centuries Zanzibar was one of the world’s major spice sources and slave
exporters, and also an international seaport at the nexus of the trade routes
of Africa, Arabia, India, and the Orient. Finally, this One Dollar 1894 British
Honduras note is the only issued example for 1894 British Honduras in the PMG
population report; in contrast Zanzibar pieces have a much higher population.


In
establishing an estimate for this extraordinary note, we have opted not to key
it to the price we achieved last year for a Zanzibar 5 Rupee note ($129,250)
but rather, as always, to let the bidders determine the value.

This
desirable note displays balanced centering and elaborate manuscript signatures are
present. It is signed by E.(nerst) B.(ickham) Sweet-Escott, as Colonial
Secretary (later Governor) of British Honduras. Additional signatures are C.(arlos)
Melhado, and H.(enry) C.(harles) Usher.

The
design features stylized floral borders, intricate lathe work (including floral
pattern), and stars within circles. Also noted are the Crown above CC (Crown
Colony) watermarks. PMG mentions splits and rust in the comments section; these
are more noticeable on the reverse. They also mention an “ink stamp.” However, PMG
did not realize that this stamp is officially printed, indicating city of
issue, Belize, and the date, OC(tober) 17, (18)94. The left margin is serrated
where the counterfoil was once attached.

PROVENANCE


Seldom does Stack’s Bowers Galleries have the
privilege of presenting a note with such an impeccable, unbroken, and important
provenance. Albert E. Morlan was the American Consul in the city of Belize,
British Honduras through two appointments in the late 19th century.

Albert Edmund Morlan was born in 1850, into a
well-to-do Quaker family. Their fortune was destroyed in the Panic of 1857, and
his father died when Albert was 16. At age 21, he apprenticed with a German
jeweler, learning that language along with the trade. At 22, he began work in
New Orleans, where he became proficient in French. At 29, he set up a jewelry
and general merchandise business in Belize City, and in 1882, based on his
sterling (“NPI”) reputation, he was appointed U.S. Consul there by President
Chester A. Arthur.


He resigned his post in order to re-establish his
business in New Orleans, with branches in Central America, including in Belize.
In 1895, President Grover Cleveland re-appointed him as consul, where he
distinguished himself and his office by submitting to the U.S. Government insightful
reports on trade. He facilitated varied commercial initiatives in Belize by
American businesses, and promoted bi-lateral export and import between British
Honduras and the United States. He became widely known in the highest political,
business, and social circles for his engaging personality and language skills,
and created much good will toward the United States, a commodity often in short
supply in Central America.

The paper money collecting community is fortunate that
Consul Morlan was present during the brief 1894 note emission, and safeguarded
this extraordinary example for posterity. At his death in 1926, this note was
bequeathed by him to his son, Edward Morlan, from Edward to his son, Charles
Morlan, and from Charles to his daughter, our consignor and the great
granddaughter of Albert.

                                                                   

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