Here you will find some banknotes that were issued by Bank, Companies, Military Departments and other miscellaneous currencies.
There was a time when there were banknotes issued by private banks. In fact, there are still some countries which allow this, such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, and in China Hong Kong still has banks that issue private notes. In the United States, the issues of banknotes started early on with the Colonies issuing notes, which naturally converted to state issues. After the Revolutionary War, Federal notes depreciated greatly in value, and the term "Worthless as a Continental Dollar" was prominent. As a result of the public losing faith in Federal dollars, private banks, railroads, and even businesses began issuing banknotes. In fact, according to the Professional Currency Dealers Association, there were well over 1,600 banks in the United States which issued over 300,000 varieties of banknotes.
This was all well and good, but there is the inevitable question of what happens when you try to spend a banknote issued from the state of Massachusetts in Georgia? And what happens when a local bank in New Jersey issues a note and you want to go to Chicago? Well you'd want to change your notes over to federal issued notes, or better yet, change them into coins, which were issued federally and were accepted all over. Just because it was a banknote, it wasn't guaranteed to be worth anything to anyone other than the issuing bank, so the farther you got away from the area, the more your locally issued banknote could be discounted, as the receiver was unfamiliar with the issuer, and to exchange it was a bit of a pain. But the fact is, most people didn't travel very often back then, and when they did, they didn't go too far, so these notes circulated pretty well. Several of these notes exist, with many of them being un-issued remainders that were left in a vault somewhere. Those that were issued are often beat up from use. The US Government put an end to Privately issued banknotes in 1863, and they bacame known as "Broken Bank Notes", "Wild-Cat Notes" or, more typically, "Obsolete Banknotes."
One example below is a 5 Dollar banknote issued in 1818 by the Bank of George-Town in Kentucky. Printed on thin, tissue like paper, this note is an early example of an Obsolete Banknote. It's depiction of an Eagle has the well known Arrows and Leaves in it's talons. The note was hand signed and issued to W. J. Smith, or Bearer, making it reuseable beyond the initial person who was issued the note.
5 Dollars 1818 Obsolete Currency "George-Town Bank, Kentucky (uniface)"
The Town of Gloucester (now Glocester) is located in northwestern Rhode Island and was established in 1639. The chiefs of the local Native American tribes sold the land to Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. Glocester was originally a part of Providence, RI, but in 1730 it was separated and became its own town. Glocester remains a rural community surrounded by various lakes, ponds and forest. It was named after Frederick Lewis, the Duke of Gloucester, and the son of King George II of England. On April 16, 1806, the city was divided in half, with the northern half adopting the name of Burrilville and the southern half keeping the name, but changing the spelling to Glocester. While the name change would have been adopted by the printing of this banknote, it still carries the old spelling.
Enter the role of one Andrew Dexter, Jr., born on March 28, 1779 to his parents, Andrew Dexter, Sr., and Mary Newton. He grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and received his education there as well, at what was then known as Rhode Island College, and was later to become Brown University.
The younger Dexter also studied law under his uncle Samuel Dexter, who was a rising politician in the Massachusetts government. After serving a period as his uncle’s secretary, he obtained his Bar License from Suffolk County, MA and entered into association with some contacts he had made while serving his uncle.
This association quickly manifested itself as the Exchange Office, which was a brokerage firm that specialized in the trading of banknotes. At this time in history, there were no federal banks that issued banknotes, and the paper money that was issued were essentially promissory notes from banks and companies that were operating without much legal oversight. The Exchange Office that Dexter and his partners operated was taking advantage of the situation by purchasing banknotes from banks at a discount and selling them later for a profit. This could be easily done due to the fact that as one person may have a banknote from a bank in, say Boston, MA, then travelled some distance, and needed use that banknote, the shop clerks may not be too keen on trading it in for the full value. In fact, there were often discounts in varying amounts, based on the issuing bank/company’s prominence and influence in the area. So the Exchange Office would purchase the banknotes for a little more than the shops would exchange them for, and sell them later, most likely in the areas that they were issued in and could get the full amount for; A nice racket.
By 1805, Dexter had risen to the position of Superintendent of the Exchange Office, but the wave of his endeavors was starting to crest. In 1806, he started his acquisition of several rural banks such as the Berkshire Bank in Pittsfield, MA. He would soon have a chain of such banks throughout the new nation, including the Farmers Exchange Bank, which incorporated in 1804, in Gloucester, Rhode Island. Obtaining these banks was a great foresight, as he recognized that having many of the banks he was dealing with would provide him with a greater profit. Once in control of his many banks, he was also in control of issuing their banknotes. A lot of banknotes.
The method often used for controlling the issuance of banknotes and curbing fiscal irresponsibility was to back them with precious metals, such as gold and silver. If Dexter had studied finance instead of law, perhaps he would have known better, but as it happened, there was precious little of the precious metals backing his banknotes. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Our current banking system is based in the fiat model, where there is no backing, just the public’s acceptance of the banknotes and coins as money. Nevertheless, without knowing when to stop printing banknotes, it becomes a slippery slope that many have slid down.
Dexter bought up a lot of land in the Boston area and announced that he was going to build a new Exchange Office and an opulent hotel that he felt was lacking in a city as important as Boston. At an estimated cost of $100,000 to build, it was a grand enterprise for a grand city. Dexter had thought it through and was convinced that the cost would soon be offset by the rents from the hotel, and the rooms in the Exchange Office. Things moved fast and in 1807, they started construction, quickly looming seven stories high and with exquisite decorations inside and out. But what Dexter hadn’t counted on was politics.
In 1807, then President Thomas Jefferson passed an embargo act, which was in response to the wars in Europe and the European nations confiscating American ships and cargo and impressing their sailors into service. The embargo lasted two years and put a deadly strain on American trade. Ships literally rotted in their docks in the northern states while southern states had their crops rot in the fields. While the embargo did spur a rise in demand for American made goods, trade essentially ended, and with the absence of trade, there was an absence of investors in the Exchange Office building in Boston. Dexter, who had been so used to getting his way over the past few years, thought nothing of making his own investments: He simply printed more money. As trade floundered nationwide, his beautiful building kept on with its construction, all funded with a glut of banknotes issued from Dexter’s many banks: a sure path to inflation if not checked in time.
It didn’t take too long before word got out about the carelessness of Dexter’s funding. Merchants throughout Boston soon began to refuse payment with any paper money from a bank that Dexter owned, and people began trading in their banknotes for coins, specie and other, more trustworthy, banknotes from credible banks. As a result, Dexter’s banks began to suffer. In 1809, the Farmers Exchange Bank in Gloucester, Rhode Island had the distinction of becoming the nation’s first chartered bank to fail. The precious metals that were supposed to back the more than $650,000 in issued banknotes, was a paltry $86.48.
As more and more of his banks folded, Dexter fled to Canada to ride out the storm. He returned to the United States in 1812, settling in New York. When his father in law died in 1816, he inherited a new fortune and he purchased land around what would later be Montgomery, Alabama. His wife died in 1818, the same year the ill-funded Exchange Office and Hotel in Boston burnt to the ground. Andrew Dexter, Jr. remained in Montgomery, Alabama until his death from Yellow Fever in 1837.
10 Dollars 1808 Obsolete Currency "Farmers Exchange Bank, Rhode Island (uniface)"
Described as "The Prettiest Small Town in America" by Ladies Home Journal magazine, Woodstock, Vermont is sure to show those who visit the classic Vermont that exists in our minds and on film. In 1768 James Sanderson and his family settled the town, and for a while theirs was the only family in the immediate area. Then, in 1776, a gristmill was erected by Major Joab Hoisington, who shortly thereafter also built a sawmill in the town. Once the Revolutionary War had come to an end, the town prospered nicely. Mills were located near the Ottauquechee River, and blacksmith shops, woolen factories and even a gunsmith shop soon took up residence. The town remained fairly small, but the manufacturing aspect that it had was quite respectable. Soon there were furniture makers, carriage manufacturers, and in 1875, tourists started coming in to the quaint community via the new train station. While the manufacturing aspect of the town has diminished over the years, tourism keeps it alive. The old architecture of the houses and buildings in the town are a strong draw, especially in the autumn, when the leaves bring the entire area alive with color.
1.50 Dollars 1809 Obsolete Currency Vermont State Bank (uniface)
Th following banknote with the almost ‘cartoony’ looking vignette is dated 1817, and shows then-General Andrew Jackson as rousing the spirits of the troops during the War of 1812 at the battle of New Orleans, which actually took place on January 8, 1815. The troops would have most likely been 5,000 militiamen in real life, who were led by Jackson against 7,500 British. While many thought at the onset that the British would win the battle, Jackson, a tough yet fair leader who was not afraid to fight along with his men, rallied his troops and lived up to his to his reputation for being as ‘tough as Old Hickory Wood’ on the battlefield. They soundly defeated the British forces and his actions there cemented his reputation and fame. The nickname “Old Hickory” stuck with him, and with his reputation as a war hero and a fair leader helped him later on to win the presidential election, serving from 1829-1837. Andrew Jackson had his depiction on banknotes a full 12 years before becoming president!
Settled in 1802 by emigrants from the Virginia and Maryland areas, New Salem was platted by Isaac Helmick on November 9, 1802. It is located between New Philadelphia and Steubenville. Its name changed to Annapolis when the Post Office was installed, and today still bears the Annapolis name. There is a new New Salem, which is a small village, and along with Pleasantville, is in the middle of the Lancaster Thornville road. Back in 1817, old New Salem, now Annapolis, was large enough to have not only two banks, the Farmers Bank and the Jefferson Bank, but also a juicy story to go along with it.
Due to the Industrial Revolution, the years of 1815-1819 were a financial boom throughout most of the United States. As many people were making more money through work and investments, private banks also boomed. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), by 1819 there were 420 private banks in the United States, each one of which was printing its own banknotes and issuing them to the public. The Second Bank of the United States was established in 1816 in the aftermath of the War of 1812. A major function of the Second Bank of the United States was to regulate public credit issued by private banks. The ‘Panic of 1819’ occurred when the Second Bank of the United States called its loans, which caused many private banks to fail. When the panic was over there were about 300 private banks in the U.S., the rest of them closed, including this Jefferson Bank of New Salem, having been in business for only two years.
The Jefferson Bank began in the second half of 1816 and had Dr. George W. Duffield serving as the bank president and Mr. Robert Baird serving as its cashier. The 1817 issue of banknotes by the Jefferson Bank included seven denominations including three issues in dollar denominations: the 1-dollar a 3-dollar and a 5-dollar, and four fractional pieces: 6¼ cents, 12½ Cents, 25 Cents, and 50 Cents. The cent issues were evidently without vignettes. J. Wilson engraved the fractional denominations, and R. G. Harrison, Jr. engraved the Dollar Denominations.
Of this one-dollar denomination, there are evidently variations in the central vignette design of the horse that Jackson is riding, as well as variations in the design of the embossing around the large numeral 1.
When the Jefferson Bank collapsed, the bank president, Dr. George W. Duffield, had several legal claims brought against him in efforts to recover losses stemming from the notes that were in circulation. One such suit being heard by the Justice of the Peace Jacob Vance, there was an argument that ensued between Dr. Duffield and the prosecuting attorney, David Redick. When the court adjourned, Duffield and Redick left the courthouse whereupon Mr. Redick pounced on Dr. Duffield. They wrestled on the ground only for a short while, but only Dr. Duffield got up. He had stabbed Mr. Redick in the neck with a medical scalpel and he lay on the ground bleeding, and later died on the way to the hospital.
Dr. Duffield went to trial for murder in August 1818, where he pleaded that he had felt that his life was in danger during the attack, and so he used his scalpel to defend himself. Dr. Duffield was acquitted as he had been the one who was attacked.
Business resumed, and the cashier, Mr. Robert Baird, issued personal promissory notes in $1,000 denominations to cover the banks losses.
Dr. George W. Duffield died on April 19, 1879 and is buried in the Germano Cemetery in Harrison County, Ohio, near Steubenville, Ohio. His headstone shows he lived for 87 years, 3 months and 24 days. His wife and two children survived him.
Robert Baird died in Annapolis, Ohio on 07 Aug 1838 aged 49, leaving a wife and 10 children.
1 Dollar 1817 Obsolete Currency Jefferson Bank of New Salem, Ohio (uniface)"
Another example below is a Two Dollar banknote issued in 1838 by the Bank of Chippeway in Sault Ste. Marie (then spelled Sault De St. Marys) in Michigan. The most striking element of this note is that top left vignette with the locomotive. The locomotive is an old Stephenson's "Rocket" which is shown pulling converted stagecoaches as passenger cars. This new technology embodies a sense of excitement of a new age and a promise of a burgeoning economy. A nice vignette of a Native American, which we can assume is of a Chippewa Indian, shows him seated in deep pastoral contemplation with his rifle. The sailor reminds one that Sault Ste. Marie is in the confluence of the Great Lakes and is at a wonderful site for economic prospects, while the image of the woman at her knitting at right gives one a feeling of warm domesticity. These vignettes are nice, but they are also meant to bring the banknotes bearer and recipient a stronger sense of viability so that the banknote would be accepted elsewhere. The reverse is left blank, as were many banknotes at the time.
2 Dollars 1838 Obsolete Currency "Chippeway, Michigan (uniface)"
Barry, Michigan was the original name of what was later called Sandstone Village. Sandstone was also the name of the township, an administrative division of a county, often made up of several villages. Back in the 1830’s, Barry was the crown jewel of Sandstone Township. While Sandstone took its name from a large deposit of sandstone rocks along a creek, Barry was named after William T. Barry, the postmaster General from 1829-1835. Sandstone settled between 1830 and 1834, and was organized into a township in 1836. An early settler in Sandstone, Dr. D.K. Akers purchased 160 acres of land in the township in 1834, and filed the plats for Barry Village. Akers built a blacksmith shop, church, shoe store, drugstore, hotel and a stone building housing the Farmers Bank of Sandstone, which issued banknotes including the one pictured here.
Barry was a bustling little town, which was even considered for a time as being the state capitol. That was beginning of the end for Barry. Lansing was named the state capitol, and Jacksonburg became the county seat, and with it a prison. By 1838 the Farmers Bank of Sandstone, Barry, Michigan went under and the rest of the town soon faded away. Today, the only building left is the stone structure that likely housed the bank.
1 Dollar 1838 Obsolete Currency "Sandstone Township, Barry, Michigan (uniface)"
the following example is a Five Dollar banknote issued in 1838 by the Bank of The River Raisen in Monroe, Michigan. The vignettes feature two Native Americans, Top left drawing an arrow on his bow, and another at the bottom-center, in a canoe. Also, an eagle at top right, and the far left shows, rather surprisingly, William Penn. This five dollar bill is uniface, and one can see the ink used to pen the signatures, dates and serial number is fading in it's smaller print, while it's larger print is showing some signs of oxidation due to the iron used in inks at the time. The name of the bank, and the river, later changed it's spelling to The River Raisin. This note is also on thin paper, much like onion skin.
5 Dollars 1838 Obsolete Currency "Bank of the River Raisen, Monroe, Michigan (uniface)"
Comparison of the Banknote portrait of William Penn and another well known portrait of him.
Here below is an 1846 5 Dollar banknote issued in the state of Maryland by the Havre de Grace Bank. Located at the mouth of the Susquehanna River on the Chesapeake Bay, 35 miles North-East from Baltimore, Havre de Grace has a long history that even includes being considered as the Nations Capitol in 1789. The ornate design of this banknote helped to deter would be counterfeiters and also helped the bank to imparted a sense of authenticity and reliability to the user. This notes intricate designs depicting women and cherubs within and around the numerals are offset by the almost "tissue-like" paper which, when handled, gives a fragile feeling.
5 Dollars 1846 Obsolete Currency "Havre de Grace, Maryland (uniface)"
The Capitol of the United States was originally located in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But this changed after a band of angry Revolutionary War Veterans converged upon Independance Hall in June 1783, demanding to be compensated fully for their service in the War of Independence. These veterans would not disperse, and congress had to remove themselves to New Jersey for the time being. This was such an unsettling protest, that it stayed on the minds of Congress for some time, resulting in the federal Residence Act of July 6, 1790 declaring that a site for the permanent seat of government be selected by the President, which at that time was George Washington. He selected the are that is now Washington D.C. (District of Columbia), an area that was surveyed out with sandstone boundary markers placed every mile.
In 1852, several things of note occurred, including the establishment of the Studebaker Company. The Automobile would have to wait for a while, but in 1852, they were building some very nice wagons in South Bend Indiana. On March 20th, 1852, the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher-Stowe was published (a mighty good read even today), and on July 3rd Congress gave the authorization for the second mint to be established in San Francisco, CA. Then, on December 29th, 1852 a woman named Emma Snodgrass was arrested in Boston, MA - for the scandalous crime of wearing pants!
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the following banknote was printed and issued: A 1 dollar note issued by the Merchants' Bank, depicting a nice train at the center-bottom, the then-President Millard Filmore at left, and two lovely ladies: one top center and one full length figure at far right within a stylized numberal 1. The women are appropriately attired in dresses and were in no danger of being arrested; Washington D.C. was too busy gearing up for political scandal and a looming war to be bothered with audacious fashion incidents.
1 Dollar 1852 Obsolete Currency "Merchants' Bank, Washington D.C. (uniface)"
In 1852, the term 'Queer as a Three Dollar Bill' wasn't in vogue, and in large part because there were in fact three dollar bills circulating in the United States. While it is indeed true that the United States never in fact issue a three dollar bill, obsolete notes, issued by private banks and companies, did issue them. The term 'queer' at that time meant 'strange' or 'odd'. It was not until much later that it became synonymous with gender identification - though perhaps the Pants-Wearing Emma Snodgrass would disagree.
West-Killingly (Now Killingly), CT had woolen and cotton mills established early in it's history. By 1836, Killingly was one of the largest cotton milling towns in New England. In 1840 the railroad came to town in Killingly, furthering the economy of the cotton and woolen mills. But in the early 1900's, the economic situation changed when the mills started closing and moving further south to compete with the lower wages and business operation costs. This bill features a vignette of a woodsman taking a break with his dog, who was assuredly a fine and noble companion.
3 Dollars 1852 Obsolete Currency "Eastern Bank, West-Killingly, Connecticut (uniface)"
The City of Muncie was incorporated in 1865. However, the area was originally settled by the Lenape, or Delaware, tribe of Native Americans. Originally from the north-east coastal area, the Lenape tribe was pushed further and further west from their homelands due to inter-tribal disputes and the ever expanding European settlers during the colonial era. After the Revolutionary War, the US government again pushed the Lenape further west where they settled in the Muncie, Indiana area in the 1770’s. Today, most live in the Ontario, Wisconsin and Oklahoma.
The railroad was not far behind. It arrived in 1852, when Muncie was still primarily a farming and trading center. Thanks in part to the area having a boom in natural gas at the time, Muncie was one of the earlier cities to get a rail line. The Railroad connected it to the commerce and prosperity that was to follow.
This Toppan, Carpenter & Co, engraved note was issued in 1854, and depicts farmers next to a canal barge and the newer, faster railway which would soon all but eclipse the canal system.
3 Dollars 1854 Obsolete Currency "Fort Wayne & Southern Railroad Co. (uniface)"
The next note is dated 1854 and was issued by the Farmers' and Merchants' bank in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis is located in the South-West corner of the state, next to Arkansas and Mississippi. Though Native Americans had long inhabited the area, it was in 1795 that the Spanish, who held the territory at that time, built a fort on the site called San Fernando de las Barrancas, giving the first city-like development in the area. Spain ceded the territory to the United States, and Tennessee was granted statehood in 1796. Captain Isaac Guion was sent to claim the land around the now abandoned fort. The Spanish fort was was left unused, but the area was developed and Memphis was officially founded in 1819, and was incorporated in 1826. At the time of this banknote's issue, in 1854, the Irish immigration to the area was growing rapidly, and would soon make up a quarter of the population by 1860. Memphis was the city that, in 1857, linked the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean when the Memphis & Charleston Railroad was completed.
This note shows a Native American female, a pioneer with musket, three cherubs denoting Agriculture, Science and Industry. To show without a doubt that the note was indeed worth FIVE DOLLARS, it had five one-dollar coins on the front.
5 Dollars 1854 Obsolete Currency "Farmers' and Merchants' Bank, Memphis, Tennessee (uniface)"
Here is a 10 dollar banknote that better shows the early locomotives and their passenger cars: Converted Stagecoaches. The people on the inside of these coaches were often times better off as they did not have to deal with the exhaust from the smokestacks. But I think the outside ride would be the more adventuresome trip.
Located in the town of Port Deposit, Maryland, the Susquehanna Bank issued this banknote in 1837. The railroad came to Port Deposit, MD in 1832, so by the time this particular note was issued, there had only been a railroad in the area for five years! The banknote also shows, in smaller detail, a side-wheel paddle boat on the Susquehanna River, another important mode of transportation.
The average hourly wage of production workers in the USA in 1837 was a whopping $0.06, making this $10 bill worth 166.6 hours of work. Based on a 40 hour work week, that's barely over one month's wages. But there was a panic in 1837 that caused a recession that lasted into the next decade. A lot of the blame was set on Andrew Jackson, who vetoed the charter of the Bank of the United States in 1832, which caused it's closing during the next four years. But there were domestic and foreign causes that led to the panic of 1837, including raising interest rates by banks, which caused the prices of goods to plummet. Another factor is that the Specie Circular of 1836. This was another act of Andrew Jackson which required that the purchase of Federal Lands in the west be paid in gold and silver coin only. The reason for the Specie Circular was that there was a worry that the speculators buying up new land that had recently had the Native Americans removed. Jackson wanted to ensure that the money was good, and not paper currency that, at that time, may not have had sufficient backing by the individual banks they were drawn on.
An interesting side-note is that almost the entire town of Port Deposit, MD was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
10 Dollars 1837 Obsolete Currency "The Susquehanna Bank, Port Deposit, Maryland (uniface)"
The bank that issued this note started in 1854 and was first known as the Wickford Bank, but within a year the name was changed to The Farmers Bank. The President of the bank, Euclid Chadsey, had served as the president of Narragansett Bank from 1833 – 1836. The Cashier was A. C. Collins. The bank was short lived due to unscrupulous investors who issued large amounts of money out of state. This led to several problems, causing the bank to close in 1857.
The area around Wickford, R. I. had long been a favored fishing and hunting location for the Narragansett Indians, as it is one of the East Coast’s best-sheltered harbors. Wickford itself started out in 1637 when Roger Williams established a trading post, quickly followed by Richard Smith also starting a trading post nearby as well as building a large house the following year, in 1678. Today, Wickford is a small village and part of North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Due in large part to the protected harbor, many early homes dating to the 18th century still survive.
This five dollar banknote was issued in 1855, and has a great vignette that spans the length of the note. Benjamin Franklin appears in the center portrait, flanked by the words Five Dollars, and two red Roman numeral V’s under-printed. The back of the note is blank, save for a cryptic note which reads “10 in 125 Ridge St.”
5 Dollars 1855 Obsolete Currency "The Farmers Bank, Wickford, Rhode Island (uniface)"
Meanwhile in 1855, life went on going with such things like Walt Whitman's book of poems "Leaves of Grass" being published, along with Lonfellow's "Song of Hiawatha". The first bridge to cross the Mississippi River was completed in Minnesota, and Congress authorized funds for the U.S. Army's Camel Corp in the American West.
But in many places, including Norfolk, Virginia, 1855 was a year of a deadly outbreak of Yellow Fever. The sickness carries a primary effect of jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, which gives it the name. Mosquito bites carry this disease with symptoms similar to a typical flu. A major different is that kidney and liver damage set in along with bleeding from the mouth, eyes and gastointestinal tract. Still a very dangerous disease today, it was much worse in 1855. In the city of Norfolk, Virginia alone, the disease killed well over 900 people in 1855. With the 1850 population recorded at 14,326, that makes approximately 15% of the city's population taken by Yellow Fever.
The vignette to the lower left is that of the Virginia State Seal. This hearkens back to 1776, when Virginia broke from Great Britain. It is a depiction of Virtue defeating Tyranny, and with the crown on the ground, it is a direct symbol of defeating the British Monarchy. The State Motto is "Sic Semper Tyrannis" - "Thus Always to Tyrants'. This banknote has a nice back design printed in red-orange.
20 Dollars 1855 Obsolete Currency "Exchange Bank, Norfolk, Virginia"
The following obsolete banknote from the Bank of Commerce in Savannah, Georgia, dated 1858, has a lovely central vignette of a paddlewheel steamship and a side vignette of a seated Indian on the right. The State Seal of Georgia is located at the bottom, center of the banknote, flanked by the signatures of the bank’s cashier and president.
Vignettes are often not attributable to their designer, nor their specific reference. Such is the case in these two of the Indian and ship. However, I am fairly certain that, after a fair bit of sleuthing, this particular ship is modelled after the SS Baltic. The Baltic, along with the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic, were a series of sister-ships that were built as cargo and passenger ships for use primarily between the United States and England. After comparing pictures of the ships, this particular design appears to have the most in common with the Baltic, especially along the prow, the sidewheel with the US Shield emblem, the flags and pennants being flown, when compared to the painting "USM steamship Baltic (1850)" by N. Currier, below. It may be that the engraver had worked from copy of the painting or a similar image to get the inspiration for this vignette. Though I’ve searched through the book “The Engraver’s Line” by Dr. Gene Hessler, one of the best available references on engravings and vignettes, I could not find reference to this vignette.
The SS Baltic was a sidewheel steamship built in 1850 for the Collins Line, a U.S. shipping company. The Baltic was one of four ships that were the largest and fastest transports at the time. The Ship was 282.5 feet long by 45 feet wide, had a single funnel and three masts rigged for additional use with sails. The top speed was 12 knots, or 13.8 miles per hour. It could travel from New York City to Liverpool, England in 9 days, 13 ½ hours. In addition to cargo, the Baltic was able to convey 200 1st class passengers, and 20 second class passengers.
After the Collins Line folded, the Ship was sold and eventually used in the Civil War as a hospital transport ship under the U.S. Sanitary Commission, A federally created civilian organization designed to aid the sick and injured soldiers and sailors of the U.S. military during the Civil War.
After the Civil War, the Baltic made a few more trips to Europe, but in 1870, the steam engines were removed and she continued working as a sailing ship until 1880, when she was scrapped.
"USM steamship Baltic (1850)" by N. Currier. U.S. Library of Congress
10 Dollars 1858 Obsolete Currency "The Bank of Commerce, Savannah, Georgia"
The town of Gosport, Indiana is pretty small, having only 826 residents according to the 2010 Census. But in 1857 Gosport’s Citizen’s Bank produced a pretty little banknote with a blue-colored back.
Gosport is located in south-west Indiana along the White River, and dates back to the early 1800’s, but was platted in 1829. It was named after Ephraim Goss, who owned a ferry on the White River.
The small town has produced some amazing people in its history, though. For those of us luck enough to know of the Little Rascals and Our Gang series, you’d know of Patsy Doris, who played Spanky’s little sister. There was also Colonel Benjamin F. Hays, who fought in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, later serving in the Indiana House of Representatives. Gosport can also claim Colonel James E. Burton, who fought in several campaigns in the Civil War. In a more modern military aspect, Gosport also raised Eugene M. Stoner who served in the U.S. Marines in WWII, and later invented the M-16, still in use today.
1 Dollar 1857 Obsolete Currency "The Citizens Bank, Gosport, Indiana"
This note from the Egg Harbor Bank, in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey dates from 1861 and features several vignettes, including a baby, a Native American, a Bald Eagle, and hunting dogs chasing down a deer. A nice green overprint ONE at the bottom is a nice addition as well as an anti-counterfeiting measure.
Egg Harbor City was founded in 1854 by German Catholic immigrants who were relocating from Pennsylvania. They were actually trying to find a place to escape an short lived anti-immigrant movement called the Know-Nothing Movement, which targeted Irish and German Catholics. It seems that there were a few protestant men who thought that these Catholics were close to overtaking the country and were controlled by the Pope. The Know Nothings (aptly named!) thought these Irish and German Catholics were going to harm Republican Party values. They finally dissolved in 1856 over the slavery issue.
Egg Harbor got its name from Dutch explorers in 1614 when they saw the shores covered in bird eggs. Today, it is a city of just over 4,000 people and is considered one of the best places in North America for bird watching.
1 Dollar 1861 Obsolete Currency "Egg Harbor Bank, New Jersey"
Here's another great note from the Bank of Commerce in Savannah, Georgia, featuring the signature of G. B. Lazar.
Gazaway Bugg Lamar, or G. B. Lamar as his signature is written, was born in Augusta, Georgia in 1879 to Basil and Rebecca (nee Kelly) Lamar on October 02, 1798. He would make a name for himself as a banker and businessman. In 1821, G. B. Lamar married Jane Meek Cresswell Together they had six children.
In the 1830’s they moved to Savannah, where G. B. Lamar continued his work in commerce, including insurance, warehousing, banking and shipping. He had ordered a ship to be pre-fabricated in England and shipped over to Savannah, GA, in sections where it was assembled and launched. The SS John Randolph, the first American Iron Hulled Steamship, 100 feet long and 22 feet wide, was launched in Savannah, Georgia on July 09, 1834. It became a great success on the river trade. There is a memorial plaque on Bay Street in Savannah, on the east side of Savannah City Hall.
Steamer John Randolph
Then the family met with horrific tragedy on the night of June 14, 1838. G. B. Lamar and his family were embarked on the steamship Pulaski, carrying between 187-197 passengers and crew. They were about 30 miles from the North Carolina coast heading north when the boilers exploded, killing all but 59. Among the survivors were G. B. Gazaway, who miraculously floated ashore, his son Charles and his daughter Rebecca. The remaining members of his family were all lost.
The disaster was significant not only due to the number of souls lost at sea, but also due to the findings of the review board. The boilers were apparently operated incorrectly and as a result, there were strict regulations regarding the operations of boilers placed in effect.
Ironically, the Pulaski was made from the remains of the old Steam Packet (Mail Carrier) Home, which on October 09, 1837, was hit by a large storm, waves breaking over the deck and snuffing out the boilers. The Captain had to ground his ship 65 miles north of Ocracoke, North Carolina in order to try to save it and its 135 passengers and crew. The ship began to break up, and though some survived, 95 people perished. The public was astonished and demanded that something be done to prevent such losses of life at sea. The government then instituted more stringent laws and regulations for safety on ocean going vessels.
At 41 years old, G.B. Lamar married Harriet De Cazeneau in 1839, and together they had another five children. By 1846 Charles Lamar had grown up and was trusted to run Gazaway’s businesses in Georgia on his own. G. B. Lamar relocated the rest of his family to Brooklyn, New York, where he helped to launch a new business, The Bank of the Republic, dealing primarily with southern trade.
He trusted his son, but he disapproved heartily of his son’s association with the slave trade. Charles was the owner of a slave ship, Wanderer, and was working to revive the international slave trade, which was abolished in the United States in 1808. The Wanderer was the last ship to be reported as bringing a cargo of slaves from Africa to the United States, in November 1858, when the Wanderer docked at Jekyll Island, Georgia with 303 slaves. The government prosecuted, but did not win the case against Charles Lamar. His father’s views on his son’s activities in the slave trade were clear in a missive he wrote to his son:
“…An expedition to the moon would have been equally sensible, and no more contrary to the laws of Providence. May God forgive you for all your attempts to violate his will and his laws.”
Nevertheless, his son was the one in charge of his interests in Georgia while he was away. Then, as is still too often now, morals did not interfere with business.
All went rather well for G. B. Lamar, until the Civil War broke out. For a short while, he was even a secret agent for the South, and organized a shipment of 10,000 muskets to Georgia to prepare the southern forces. In May of 1861, he left New York and returned to Savannah, to take personal control of his businesses there during the hostilities. While back in Savannah, G. B. Lamar became the president of the Bank of Commerce, which issued these two notes, bearing his signature. He seems to have been in a rather large position of influence, as he had been an advisor to several members of the confederate government, including Georgia Governor Joseph Brown and CSA President Jefferson Davis. As a financial advisor, he recognized that the method of borrowing money to fund the war was too costly, and he was a strong advocate for maintaining a purely defensive posture. The South, unlike the North, did not enact an income tax for funding the war, and issued many bonds and promissory notes.
In October 1863, G. B. Lamar called a meeting with all the bankers in the Confederate States in order to address the state of Confederate issued currency. He had little influence, and as we know now, it was very late in the war for such a consideration.
Throughout the war, G. B. Lamar traded overseas in guano, cotton, and tobacco, which required him to create a company specifically to run the Union naval blockade. In all, he was quite a successful merchant even during the war. But when Union forces under the command of General Sherman entered Savannah, G. B. Lamar was quick to acquiesce and he took the required Oath of Allegiance for the Union. Given his willingness to take the oath, and his history of being in New York as a successful businessman, he was pardoned for his rebel allegiance during the war. However, all was not going well for G. B. Lamar. Soon after the assassination of Lincoln, he was implicated as a suspect and arrested, being held in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington D. C. for three months. Once the charges were released for a lack of evidence, he was free, but found that his goods, primarily cotton, were under the control of the government. When he tried to claim them, he was again arrested, this time for theft of government property and bribery of a government employee. He was shortly granted a commuted sentence by President Johnson.
For the rest of his life he pursued his claim for compensation for his confiscated goods and, in 1874, he won a lawsuit against the US government, being awarded $580,000. Even though this was the largest sum ever awarded to a claimant, he was still wanted to pursue for more damages. He would go to his grave without obtaining more from the government, passing away on a trip to his daughter’s in New York City, in 1874. In his will, he left instructions for his family to continue pursuing the government for his lost property, and leaving $100,000 for a convalescent home to be constructed for aged and infirm Negroes in Savannah, Georgia.
The bank cashier, John C. Ferrill, was a longtime resident of Savannah and served for five sessions as an alderman (city council member) from 1858 through 1873.
20 Dollars 1861 Obsolete Currency "The Bank of Commerce, Savannah, Georgia"
Note on the Ship Wanderer:
The ship was infamous as a slave ship and was stolen and taken to sea on a slaving voyage. Approaching the African shore, the first mate mutinied and left the captain at sea in a small boat. He then returned to the United States, turning the ship over to government authorities on December 24, 1859. She was obtained by the Union Navy in 1861 to prevent her falling into the hands of Southern forces and was used in a variety of ways and ended up as a hospital ship. She was sold off after the war and was lost off the coast of Cuba in 1871. June 1865, the Wanderer operated commercially until lost off the coast of Cuba, on 12 January 1871.
Slave Ship Wanderer
Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania was established in 1796 along the Juniata River about 7 miles south of Altoona, PA. Hollidaysburg is named after the two Irish brothers who co-founded the small city, or, as small cities are known in Pennsylvania, a borough. Located between the Portage Railroad and the Pennsylvania Canal, it became an important transfer station. Today, Hollidaysburg is perhaps best known as the home of the Slinky Manufacturing plant.
This 10 Dollar banknote is fun as it plays on the name of the town, or borough, Hollidaysburg. This note was issued with the date of February 14, 1859 - Valentines day. This particular note, bieng a Five Dollar Bill, has a large, red Roman Numeral V in the middle of the note, as if to commemorate Valentines Day!
Some pretty cool things happened in 1859. For starters, On January 23rd, the Hawaiian Volcano Mauna Loa started erupting continuously for 300 days. Then, Oregon was admitted as the 33rd state on February 14th, 1859, the same day as this banknote was issued. On May 31st, the Philadelphia A's organized to play something called ‘Town Ball’, which would become better known as baseball in 1869. On April 17th, the first airmail took off from Lafayette, Indiana – in a balloon. On October 16th, John Brown led the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, and on November 24th Charles Darwin published his book “On the Origin of Species”. Two days later, on November 26th, another Charles, this one being Charles Dickens, had his last chapter of “A Tale of Two Cities” published as a serial article in a magazine. History is sometimes closer than we think.
10 Dollars 1859 Central Bank of Pennsylvania, Hollidaysburg
The next note is dated May 1st 1860 and shows a central vignette of the State Bank of South Carolina, Charleston Branch. The building still stands today on the corner of Broad Street and E. Bay Street, looking almost exactly the same as the vignette.
Printed by Bald, Cousland & Company in Philadelphia, PA, the banknote is signed by Cashier B(enjamin) M. Lee and President Edward Sebring. The bank was in operation from 1801, but obtained its charter in 1802, and remained in operation until the end of the Civil War.
The Bank President, Edward Sebring, (b. July 26, 1799, d. June 30, 1880) Served as the president throughout the Civil War. When Sebring received word that General Sherman and his troops were drawing close towards Charleston, S.C., Sebring decided that it would be best to take the banks paper assets away to Camden, just to the north-west of Charleston. However, some of the Union troops wound up in Camden and discovered the money there, and made off with it.
To make matters worse for Sebring, the Union Army troops under General Potter ransacked Sebring’s home while he was away, stealing his valuable items and subjecting the home to vandalism.
The bank also had 100 bonds from before the Civil War, which were $1,000 bonds to aid the Blue Ridge Rail Road Company. While trying to hide the bonds from the marauding Union Army, the Banks Cashier, Benjamin M. Lee, was captured by Union Troops on February 27, 1865, near Lynch Creek, South Carolina (near modern day Lake City). All but four of the bonds were stolen by Union Army Troops. Bond numbers 812, 821, 0836 and 837, were turned over to the U.S. Treasury, with another 39 bonds later recovered, and the remainder having been presumably destroyed.
This banknote was issued on May 1st, 1860. The preceding month, on April 3rd, saw the first run of the Pony express from Missouri to California. On May 18, 1860 Abraham Lincoln was chosen by the Republican Party to run for U.S. President. He would win the presidential election on November 6, 1860, the first Republican to win the presidency. Then, on December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union, the first state to do so. Several southern states followed in secession, and in April 1861 Fort Sumter was attacked, and the Civil War began.
5 Dollars 1860 State Bank of South Carolina, Charleston
This 10 dollar banknote from the same bank as the note above, was issued in 1859, a contemporary of the note above and has the same signatures. It has a great vignette of Sailing Ships in a harbor, with a young woman harvesting wheat at left.
10 Dollars 1859 Obsolete Currency State Bank of South Carolina, Charleston
Did you know that there were banknotes issued by the US Government in denominations LESS than 1 dollar? They were issued during the civil war during a shortage in coinage, and were called Fractional Currency. Here’s a couple of them. They were used as small change as we use coinage now, but to be redeemed for banknotes you had to save a minimum of $3 worth (30 of these little notes). To pay dues to the U.S., they had to be in amounts less than $5. So it is evident that the banks didn't want to deal with small amounts of these as it very likely wasn't worth their while to mess with such small sums. For the Tax Collectors, or whoever collected "dues to the United States", the notes were obviously too troublesome to deal with, and they had to be limited to less than 50 notes per transaction.
10 Cents Fractional Currency 1869-1876
At the end of the Civil War the State of Kansas submitted a petition to the US Government for damages resulting from the war. The petition specifically addressed actions resulting from a Confederate excursion that was known as the ‘Price Raid’, and the Union’s ‘Indian Expedition’ under General Samuel R. Curtis.
By 1864 the Confederate Army found itself on the losing edge. In an attempt to bolster both public support for the South and to gain territory and supplies, a plan was devised to send Confederate Major-General Sterling Price into the states of Missouri and Kansas to conduct raids on the Union Military. The plan was to retake Missouri, enter Kansas and scour the land for mules, wagons and other supplies. Leaving in August 1864, Price left with 12,000 men and a small contingent of artillery. During the raids, Price and his men also killed and robbed unarmed civilians and pillaged private properties. Though these actions were not uncommon on both sides of the war, the Price Raid became infamous for its actions and was estimated to have cost over $500,000 in damages.
General Samuel Curtis was a Union General in charge of the Department of Kansas, and was tasked to defend the western frontier during the Civil War. He was specifically sent to deal with hostile Indians, primarily Cheyenne and Lakota, who were conducting attacks on travelers through their territory. The reasons for the attacks were many, including the spread of disease, devastation of the grasses for grazing, wholesale reduction of timber, and other misuse of lands and nuisances. These attacks were effective and became disruptive to the U.S. Government and tocompanies transporting freight. Eventually General Curtis was made to conduct an Indian Expedition, which enlisted "friendly" Pawnees to fight against the other Indians. Curtis also enlisted what were called "Galvanized" Yankees (ex-confederate soldiers serving in the Union Army) to conduct general military operations in the area. As a result of the Indian Expedition, the affected Indians attacked more fervently, and chose additional targets, causing what was believed to be more damage than if the military had not acted at all.
By October 1864, two months into their raid started, the Confederate expedition had confiscated over 500 wagons of supplies and it seemed as if it was a success. In addition, while it was much less than he had hoped for, it is estimated that as many as 6,000 men joined up with Price while he was in Missouri. Under their long wagon train the Confederate march began to slow down, allowing the Union forces more time to act.
After the Indian Expedition, General Curtis joined up with others to stop the Confederate raids. Combining militias from Kansas and Missouri with several other Federal units, the Union forces totaled somewhere around 35,000 men pursuing Price’s ever slowing force of about 18,000. Several battles ensued, following Price on his way westward. At first, as the Union forces were just assembling, Price was able to win a few skirmishes, and keep the Union Army at bay, continuing his snail’s pace.
At the battle of Westport, Missouri, Price was faced with Union soldiers in front and behind his long column. Instead of fleeing south, he decided to fight. After several hours of fighting, it became apparent that he could not win. Price then retreated back south, towing a 15 mile long wagon train of booty behind him. This line of wagons was acting as an anchor and was the undoing of the Confederate’s raid.
Passing through the winding Mine Creek, Price crossed a ford at the head of the line, but about halfway through, the banks softened and the wagons began to bog down, and soon were stuck hard. Price was oblivious of the situation. The Union forces in pursuit from the battle of Westport were soon upon the stranded Confederates and as the rebels were scurrying to make a stand, the Union, vastly outnumbered, but better armed with repeating rifles and pistols, started a cavalry charge. After a brief stall, the Union soldiers broke the rebel’s lines and in less than 30 minutes, the battle was over with the Union army defeating their enemy due in large part to their weaponry and to the quickness of their charge. Price was followed, but he decided to abandon the wagon train of loot and burn it. Thus unburdened, he found his way back south to Texas, safe and unharmed.
After assessing the petition, the U.S. Government agreed to pay out assessed damages resulting from the Price Raid and the Indian Expedition. Kansas distributed the money to the claimants in banknotes under the title "Union Military Scrip". The following $5 banknote is an example. The uniface note was printed by the Continental Banknote Company in New York.
5 Dollars 1867 Military Scrip Kansas
Little known outside the world of collectors and a few military veterans who've used them, the Military Payment Certificate (MPC) has been around as a type of a chit used to pay for goods and services on bases. They are no longer used, nor can they be redeemed, but they are an important sideline in the history of United States paper money. While some were nothing more than text on paper, most of these were steeped with imagery of American symbolism including Liberty, tanks, planes, a submarine, soldiers, sailors, American Indian Chief Hollow Horn Bear, a bison, and of course several pretty women. Issues were in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents and 1, 5, 10, and 20 dollars.
Below is a military payment certificate series 681 $1 note issued in 1969. This note depicts an Air Force pilot on the front and the Thunderbirds flying F-100 Super Sabres in formation on the back. In the spring of 1969, they switched to the newer F-4E Phantom II.
1 Dollar Military Payment Certificate 1969
While the MPC's were not issued after 1970, things called Pogs are currently issued to members overseas for use in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) base and post exchange stores. These pogs are simple round cardboard discs issued in 1, 5, 10 and 25 cent denominations with a plethora of computer printed images on them. Below are just a few.
Small Change "Pogs" aka MPC
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