PMG Grades Famous "Grand Watermelon" Note

Posted on 6/18/2013

The “Grand Watermelon,” note received its nickname due to the three zeros on the back.

Paper Money Guaranty (PMG) has graded and encapsulated the extremely rare Fr-379a 1890 $1,000 Treasury Note, considered to be the most famous US note type. Commonly called the “Grand Watermelon,” the note received its nickname because the three zeros on the back resemble watermelons. PMG has graded this note Extremely Fine 45 Net.

This specimen recently sold for $1,527,500, joining an exclusive group of million-dollar notes. Only seven examples of the Grand Watermelon are believed to exist and just three are in private hands. The note certified by PMG is attributed to the reference number Friedberg-379a, which is identified by the large brown seal.

The Grand Watermelon notes were made as a result of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, which required the US Treasury to purchase up to 4.5 million ounces of silver at market prices. The silver was purchased with Treasury Notes in denominations of $1 to $1,000 that could then be redeemed for either gold or silver coins. This earned the Treasury Notes the nickname “Coin Notes.”

These notes were popular because they could be redeemed for both gold and silver coins, as opposed to Silver Certificates that could only be redeemed for silver coins. This special status resulted in higher redemption rates which, combined with minuscule print runs for large denominations, resulted in an extremely low survival rate.

The Grand Watermelon is not only historically important, but also a unique and highly desirable design. In 100 Greatest American Currency Notes, Q. David Bowers and David M. Sundman ranked this note type number one.

“PMG is honored to have been selected to grade the Grand Watermelon note,” says Bruce Thornton, a finalizer for PMG. “It was an amazing experience to grade this note and it was particularly special to see such a well preserved example.”

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