Former VP’s 1905 Fairbanks $5 Bill Could Fetch $200K-$300K


A 107-year old $5 bill from Fairbanks, Alaska originally given to the city’s namesake, former U.S. Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks, is expected to sell for $200,000 or more in an auction of rare currency on October 18, 2012.

1905 Fairbanks $5 front PCGS Cur 63
This $5 bill issued in 1905 by the First National Bank of Fairbanks, Alaska and given to the city’s namesake, then Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks, is expected to sell for $200,000 or more in a public auction to be conducted by Heritage Auctions on October 18, 2012. The note was consigned by Fairbanks’ heirs who say that for decades it was kept framed in the den of a house in Pasadena, California.

"The historic note is printed with serial number one and it has been in the family’s possession since Charles W. Fairbanks received it from the First National Bank of Fairbanks when it was issued in 1905," said Dustin Johnston, Director of Currency Auctions at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas.

Heritage will conduct the auction in Dallas and online.

"It’s a piece of Fairbanks history you can hold in your hands. It’s probably the most important Alaska National Bank Note in terms of pedigree and with ties to some of the most significant individuals in the early history of the city of Fairbanks," Johnston stated.

The $5 bill was personally hand-signed by the bank’s President and co-founder, Samuel Bonnifield, a well-known professional gambler of the era who was nicknamed "Square Sam," and also signed by the bank’s Cashier, prominent Fairbanks lawyer Luther C. Hess, who also served as a U.S. District Attorney and Alaska Territorial legislator.

1905 Fairbanks $5 Back PCGS Cur 63
The back of the 1905 Fairbanks $5 note

Charles Warren Fairbanks (1852 – 1918) was a U.S. Senator from Indiana who served as Vice President under President Theodore Roosevelt from 1905 – 1909. His great-grandson, Charles W. Fairbanks IV, recalled that while growing up in Pasadena, California his father, Charles W. Fairbanks III, kept the $5 bill in a frame "for everyone to see" in the den of their house.

"I’ve lived with it for 67 years," the great-grandson stated.

For the past few years the note has been kept in a bank safe deposit box, and now the Fairbanks heirs have consigned it to the auction.

"My feeling is that it should be with someone who understands it and will care for it. It does the world more good by being out there than it does sitting in a safe deposit box," Fairbanks explained.

In the early 20th century, some banks could deposit funds with the U.S. Treasury and receive National Banks Notes printed with the bank’s name and charter number on them.

"Based on the numbers printed on this note, we know it is serial number one from very first sheet of Series 1902 $5 bills that were issued in March 1905 by the First National Bank of Fairbanks, charter number 7718," said Johnston. "We estimate the note will sell for $200,000 to $300,000 in the auction."

The $5 bill is one of the highlights of a rare coin and paper money auction that will be conducted by Heritage in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association National Money Show (, a major convention of coin and paper money collectors in Dallas, October 18 – 20.

For additional information, contact Heritage Auctions at (800) 872-6467 or visit online at

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