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Bryan Horwath, Forum News Service, Published March 09 2013

Old currency could draw lots of new currency at ND auction

DICKINSON, N.D. - Southwest North Dakota collectors will have a rare opportunity today to catch a glimpse of a number of old banknotes, some with a distinct local flavor.

An estate auction today in Dickinson will feature a selection of dated U.S. currency - both paper and coin - including a set of “horseblanket” notes that are nearly 100 years old.

“There will be some really interesting stuff there,” said Dickinson collector Leon Lorz, who is representing a number of parties who have placed items up for auction. “The horseblankets were made up until basically 1925. They were a lot larger notes back then, which is something that has changed with time.”

The big-ticket items for the auction include authentic national currency notes from the First National Banks of Dickinson, New England and Marmarth from the early 1900s. What makes those notes especially appealing to residents of southwest North Dakota, said Lorz, is the fact that the names of the towns are listed on the bills.

“It’s not often that you can get your hands on a note that actually has ‘Dickinson’ or ‘New England’ printed right on it,” Lorz said. “We know there are only eight of Marmarth horseblanket notes left in existence and the one that will be up for auction on Saturday is the highest graded known to be out there.”

Although the price at auction has yet to be set, Lorz said the Marmarth note could net somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 from interested bidders. The Marmarth note was issued in 1902, a few years before the railroad arrived in the tiny Slope County town. The population of Marmarth peaked at around 1,300 in 1920, but declined rapidly when the town’s railroad shop was closed following a strike.

The Dickinson and New England notes -- a $20 bill and $5 bill, respectively -- were both issued in 1929. Also up for auction will be a variety of silver and gold coins, silver certificates and other collectable monies.

“Old paper money like this -- these are really works of art,” Lorz said. “They barely had electricity back then and everything was done by hand. All the plates were engraved by hand and it wasn’t even really paper -- they made these notes from cotton and denim. It’s really quite something, like owning a small piece of history.”

The event will be run by Binstock’s Big-E Auction Service and will take place beginning at 10 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Express in Dickinson.

Ed Binstock will be out of town this weekend, but said he’s excited about the selection of rare collectable monies.

“There’s going to be a lot of good stuff there,” Binstock said. “Those old horseblankets are rare and it’s a great chance for people to see them and maybe put a bid in. It will be a fun day.”

National bank notes were issued by banks throughout the nation and U.S. territories from 1863 until around 1925 (or slightly later). Many of the notes featured the name of the city or town where the notes were issued, making them collectables of particular local interest years later.