Rare $100 Baby Watermelon to Headline Spring 2024 Showcase Auction

Issued among the aesthetic excess of the 1890s, the Series of 1890 $100 Treasury Notes are among the most intricate and eye appealing notes ever produced by the Bureau of Engraving & Printing. An example is found in lot 21186 of our Spring 2024 Expo Auction.

Collectors have dubbed this issue as the “Baby Watermelon,” a name derived from the shape of the zeroes on the back for their obvious resemblance to the fruit. Notes like these were not favored by the Treasury in their own time. Derided as overly complicated and crowded, the Treasury believed that the nature of the back design made them susceptible to counterfeiting. For this reason they were replaced with the Series of 1891, which eschewed a crowded design in favor of one that emphasized empty space.

A portrait of Admiral David Farragut adorns the face in a continuation of Treasury policy to depict high-ranking Union officers on banknotes. Farragut, who joined the United States Navy at the age of 9 had a long and distinguished career even before the Civil War. Holding several commands following the War of 1812 and spending time as a prisoner of war during that conflict, Farragut emerged as one of the preeminent officers of the nascent United States Navy (along with the Jones, Perry, and Decatur) during its formative years from independence through the American Civil War. 

Nonetheless, Farragut is perhaps best remembered for his involvement at the Battle of Mobile Bay where his paraphrased quote “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” passed into legend. This battle denied the Confederate States of America access to the Gulf of Mexico and would cement Farragut’s status as a naval officer and as a national hero.

A trophy even for the most advanced collector, appearances of the coveted Friedberg-377 note are sporadic at best. The Spring 2024 Showcase Auction offers collectors multiple chances to acquire a number of impressive rarities, but only a single Baby Watermelon is found among these. It is suggested that bidders consider their options carefully and bid accordingly.

To view all lots in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Spring 2024 Showcase Auction visit To consign your numismatic items to one of our upcoming auctions, please call 800-458-4646 or email

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