Norris Collection of State Issued North Carolina Notes to be Offered in March Baltimore Auction

The collecting bug bit V.L. Norris at an early age, aided by a father who collected coins and currency and who gave him a Fugio cent nearly 40 years ago. “I was really fascinated by the age of the coin and to think that the coin could have possibly been held by George Washington or Thomas Jefferson,” said Norris. “I researched that coin a lot and it really got me started.”

The Norris Collection will be offered at our March 2015 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. While notes from the collection span many genres from U.S. type notes to Nationals, Colonials and more, at the heart of the collection is one of the most advanced collections of state issued North Carolina notes to ever be offered publicly.

Norris said about his interest in the state notes: “I was always interested in the Civil War and North Carolina history and my dad had some North Carolina notes from that time period and I took a real liking to them.”

He believes he bought his first state issued North Carolina note almost 35 years ago and when he did his father gave him a book he still has to this day, a 1965 edition of Confederate and Southern States Currency by Grover Criswell. The book informed him that the notes were listed not just by type but also by numerous varieties within each type. Fascinated by the prospect of such a challenge he decided to try to get them all.

“I told my dad I wanted to try to get one of every variety and he laughed at me,” he said. He then added, “Back then I couldn’t understand why he was laughing, but I do now.”

With several updates over the years to Criswell’s work and the 2006 publication of A Guide Book of Southern States Currency by Hugh Shull, there are now around 288 different “Criswell Varieties” to be collected. While Mr. Norris has not accomplished his original goal of obtaining one of each variety, he estimates that he has secured around two-thirds of the published varieties as well as many notes that may become new varieties in future publications. He has always tried to upgrade when given the opportunity, in order to constantly improve his collection even when he couldn’t “fill in holes.”

The state note collection alone includes hundreds of notes issued by the state of North Carolina between 1861 and 1865. Among the many notes in The Norris Collection are rarities like a Cr.23 1861 State of North Carolina $2 printed by the North Carolina Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. There is also a Cr.74 1865 State of North Carolina $100, a rare note in any grade and especially so in Extremely Fine. Norris’ collection also includes a Cr.124A 1863 State of North Carolina $5 with handwritten “Fundable” endorsement along the top border. One of the rarest varieties Norris obtained over the years was a Cr.150B 1864 State of North Carolina 25 Cent note with green “25 Cts” protector, of which perhaps only one sheet was ever made. That note is listed as R-10 in the Shull reference.

While the time has come for Norris to part with his collection he says the collecting bug is still inside him. In time he will find a new avenue to pursue, always keeping lit the flame sparked by the Fugio Cent that he was given almost four decades ago.

Our Stack’s Bowers Galleries March Showcase Auction is March 26-29, 2015 in conjunction with the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring Expo. Our consignment deadline for that auction is February 2, 2015. If you would like to consign alongside the Norris Collection, contact one of our consignment specialists at 800-458-4646.

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