“I just wasn’t a big auction fan, but I am now.”
Imagine buying boxes of old textbooks for $10 and finding the unique piece of paper shown above inside. This 25-cent denomination Republic of Texas Exchequer Note, dated May 1, 1843 and hand-signed by legendary president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston, was found last year by an Austin, Texas area couple in an old textbook. This early example of paper money sold for $63,250 in an auction conducted by Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, January 6, 2011.
“It’s a rare Republic of Texas Exchequer note in the amount of 25 cents, dated on May 1, 1843 and hand-signed by Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas,” said Allen Mincho of Heritage Auctions. “These notes were printed in various denominations between 1842 and 1845, but probably less than two dozen Texas Exchequer notes are known to survive today.” Most of the notes were destroyed when they were redeemed in the 1840s, the note in the auction shows no sign of cancellation meaning it was likely never redeemed for its 25 cents face value.
Bill and Cindy Farnsworth of the Austin area were surprised to find the old piece of paper money in September in a used book after returning home from a Southeast Texas auction where they had purchased 11 boxes of old textbooks for just $10. Bill Farnsworth recalled: “My wife called to me and said, ‘I thought you might like to have this.’ The first thing I noticed was that the paper was real thin. I knew enough to know that (modern) reproduction currency is made on much thicker paper.” He said he previously didn’t enjoy going to auctions as much as his wife did. “I just wasn’t a big auction fan, but I am now.”
The pre-sale estimate by Heritage was $50,000 or more; the winning bid of $63,250 was placed at the auction by an agent representing an anonymous Texas collector