Unique Alaska Brown Back Note Discovery Announced at Memphis International Paper Money Show
Incredible Note from the “Territory of Alaska” in pristine condition and serial #1 Discovered
Andrew Shiva, founder of the National Currency Foundation ( a educational 501 (c) (3) foundation) has announced the discovery of the only known ”Territory of Alaska” $10 Series of 1882 Brown Back note issued by The First National Bank of Juneau.
The announcement was made on the opening day (June 13th) of the International Paper Money Show being held in Memphis.
There are only two reported “Territory of Alaska” notes now known: the $10 Series of 1882 Brown Back displayed here, and a $20 Series of 1882 Date Back discovered in St. Louis in 1977.
In the ground breaking work “The Encyclopedia of National Bank Notes” by Paper Money researcher and expert Peter Huntoon he recounts that “Territory of Alaska” notes account for the lowest number (0.12%) of all large size territorial notes issued, followed by Puerto Rico (0.26%), Idaho (1.3%), and Wyoming (1.7%).”
In adsition, writting in 1995 Huntoon said “There are but a few great territorial types left
to be discovered. Tops among these are a Series of 1882 brown back from Juneau, Territory of Alaska…” (p.270)
Beyond the extreme rarity of this note, there are several additional factors that make this one of the most extraordinary numismatic items ever found. First it is in near perfect condition. Discovery items, in any condition are important, but to find the sole survivor of anything, in pristine condition is amazing. Then add the fact this this note has serial # 1, the first note printed and one has a “perfect storm” of rarity and condition.
Britain, Russia and even Spain had made numerous trips and claims upon the land of Alaska, some dating all the way back to the 15th century, but the Russians had control, albeit a fragile one, over the area in the 18th to mid 19th century,
In 1867, beset with financial difficulties in Russia and the desire to keep Alaska out of British hands, combined with low profits of trade with Alaskan settlements, Russia’s willingness to sell its possessions in North America resulted in the purchase of Alaska by the United States for $7,200,000 on August 1, 1867.
This purchase , championed by U.S. Secretary of State William Seward was popularly known in the U.S. as “Seward’s Folly,”, “Seward’s Icebox,” or “Andrew Johnson’s Polar Bear Garden”, and was unpopular at the time.
From 1867 to 1884, Alaska was variously under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army (until 1877), the United States Department of the Treasury (from 1877 until 1879) and the U.S. Navy (from 1879 until 1884).
Finally in 1884, the region was organized and the name was changed from the Department of Alaska to the District of Alaska. At the time, legislators in Washington, D.C., were occupied with post-Civil War reconstruction issues, and had little time to dedicate to Alaska.
An interesting note is that clearly Treasury officials did not know what designation to engrave on The First National Bank of Juneau plates in 1898, so “Territory” was inserted. Alaska was in fact a District at the time, so that is what should have been engraved. The Treasury sorted this out in time for the Series of 1902 Red Seals from Fairbanks.
Organized: February 15, 1898
Opened: April 18, 1898
Initial Capitalization: $12,500
Bureau of Engraving and Printing certified proofs were approved on April 19, 1898. The first currency shipment to the bank left the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on May 6, 1898, and included sheets 1 through 221 of Series 1882 Brown Backs (10-10-10-20) amounting to $11,050