Better Know Your Notes. Salmon P. Chase on $10,000 Federal Reserve Notes

Our upcoming Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Official Currency Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring Expo will feature a trio of notes representing America’s highest circulating currency denomination, the $10,000 bill. Illustrated prominently on these $10,000 Federal Reserve Notes is Salmon P. Chase, the subject of our latest edition of Better Know Your Notes.

Chase was born in Cornish, New Hampshire on January 13, 1808, one of ten children born to Janet and Ithamar Chase. Upon the death of his father when he was 9, Chase was sent to be raised by an uncle. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1826 and moved to Washington D.C. where he studied law under U.S. Attorney General William Wirt. Chase was admitted to the bar in 1829, after which he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he became a noted abolitionist lawyer defending fugitive slaves and arguing against long standing fugitive slave laws. Chase was elected to the United States Senate representing Ohio as a member of the Free Soil Party in 1849. While in the Senate he was integral in the formation of the Republican Party and served from 1856 to 1860 as the first Republican governor of Ohio.

In 1860 Chase sought the Republican nomination for president but lost to Abraham Lincoln. Chase accepted Lincoln’s nomination to become the 25th secretary of the Treasury in 1861 and served in that role in Lincoln’s cabinet from 1861 to 1864. During his time as Treasury secretary Chase initiated the national banking system and the first official issues of United States paper currency. The new National Currency standardized circulating paper money around the nation and guaranteed the sale of United States bonds, which helped to fund the Union effort in the Civil War. Newly issued “Greenbacks” even featured his portrait on the $1 denomination, perhaps more of a political play than recognition of his service.

Chase threatened Lincoln with resignation several times during his term while attempting to bolster his own chances at the next Republican Presidential nomination. By mid-1864 Lincoln had secured the Republican nomination and surprised Chase by accepting his third attempt at resignation. In December of 1864 Chase was nominated and confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. One of his first actions was to admit John Rock as the first African American attorney to argue cases before the Supreme Court. Chase held the Chief Justice seat until his death on May 7, 1873.

Chase was featured on large size $10,000 Federal Reserve Notes from the series of 1918 in honor of his contributions to the American financial and legal system. Just five examples of that note are known today with all in government hands. Chase was again pictured on the small size $10,000 Federal Reserve Notes of series 1928 and 1934 and on the 1934 $10,000 Gold Certificate (none of which are held privately). Our March Baltimore Currency Auction offers three of the Series of 1934 $10,000 Federal Reserve Notes. The first is lot 4450, an Fr.2231-A 1934 $10,000 on the Boston District graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 64 EPQ. Lot 4451 is a Fr. 2231-B 1934 $10,000 from the New York District graded PMG Choice About Uncirculated 58 Net “Repaired” It is one of the few “non-Binion” notes known from the district. Lastly, lot 4452 is a Fr.2231-J 1934 $10,000 from the Kansas City District graded PMG Very Fine 35 Net “Repaired.”

All three of these fantastic notes come from the Holecek Family Foundation Collection and will be offered March 26 in Session 3 of our Baltimore Currency Auction. Consignor proceeds from the sale of these notes will go to benefit various charities of the family’s choosing.

View this and the rest of our March 2015 Baltimore currency auction at


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