Nes Silicon Steel Company

A lovely, low serial number, $5 note from the Nes Silicon Steel Company in Sandusky, OH from the 1870's. Silicon Ore Mines in Rome, New York was the parent company. The Nes Silicon Steel Company requested 5 acres of land on August 7, 1872 for which to have it's operations on. Source:

$5 Nes Silicon Steel Company, Sandusky, OH
Image Contribution: Handini

The Searsport Bank

A Lovely $3 remainder note from the Searsport Bank of Searsport, Maine. Listed as a rarity of 1 Source: MAINE Obsolete Paper Money and Scrip By: George W. Wait (1977). Despite being a more common note, it has beautiful vignettes making it an attractive addition to any collection.

$3 Searsport Bank, ME
Image Contribution: Handini

Merchant's Scrip From Corinth, Vermont

By: Handini

Here is a rare 5 cent remainder note from Corinth, VT from 1862. Coulter lists the note with a rarity of 7 Source: Vermont Obsolete Notes And Scrip By: Mayre Burns Coulter (1972).

5 Cents, Corinth, Vermont
Image Contribution: Handini

A Long List Of Obsolete Currency Books

If you're trying to find a book on the subject then I hope this blog will help. Books on obsolete currency are not always readily available in stores so I've compiled a list of books on the subject:

The following books are reference books on obsolete currency in general:

     Criswell's Currency Series, Volume I: Confederate And Southern State Currency: A Descriptive
     Listing, Including Rarity
     Grover C. Criswell Jr. (1957)

     Criswell's Currency Series Volume II: Confederate And Southern State Bonds
     Grover C. Criswell Jr. (1961)

     Descriptive List Of Obsolete Paper Money
     D. C. Wismer (1922)

     Counterfeit Currency Of The Confederate States Of America
     George B. Tremmel (2003)

     Comprehensive Catalog And History Of Confederate Bonds
     Douglas B. Ball (1998)

     Standard Catalog Of World Paper Money, Specialized Issues, Volume I, seventh edition

The following books are on depression scrip:

     Standard Catalog Of Depression Scrip Of The United States: The 1930's Including Canada
     And Mexico
     Ralph A. Mitchell (1984)

     Depression Scrip Of The United States Period Of The 1930's
     Charles V. Kappen and Ralph A. Mitchell (1961)

The following books are region specific:

     Indian Territory And Oklahoma Obsolete Notes Scrip And Kansas Obsolete Notes And Scrip
     Maurice Burgett, and Steven Whitfield (1980)

     Obsolete Banknotes Of New England
     D. C. Wismer (1985)

The following books are state specific:

     Alabama Obsolete Paper Money And Scrip
     Walter Rosene Jr. (1984)

     Florida Obsolete Notes And Scrip
     Harley L. Freeman (1967)

     Indiana Obsolete Notes And Scrip
     Wendell A. Wolka, Jack M. Vorhies, and Donald A. Schramm (1978)

     Mississippi Obsolete Paper Money And Scrip
     L. Candler Leggett (1975)

     MAINE Obsolete Paper Money and Scrip
     George W. Wait (1977)

     Michigan Obsolete Bank Notes And Scrip Notes of the 19th Century - National Bank Notes
     Wallace Lee (2007)

     Obsolete Banknotes And Early Scrip Of Michigan
     Harold L. Bowen (1985)

     A History And Catalog Of Minnesota Obsolete Bank Notes And Scrip: A Comprehensive Guide
     To Minnesota Paper Money From The Era Of Minesota Territory To . . .
     R. Shawn Hewitt (2007)

     Minnesota Obsolete Notes And Scrip
     R. H. Rockholt (1973)

     Descriptive List Of Obsolete Paper Money Issued In New Jersey
     D. C. Wismer (1928)

     New York Descriptive List Of Obsolete Paper Money
     D. C. Wismer (1931)

     Obsolete Bank Notes Of New York
     D. C. Wismer (1985)

     New York Scrip And Private Issues
     Gordon L. Harris (2001)

     Obsolete Banknotes Of Ohio
     D. C. Wismer (1932)

     Obsolete Banknotes Of Pennsylvania
     D. C. Wismer (1985)

     Pennsylvania Descriptive List Of Obsolete State Bank Notes 1782-1866
     D. C. Wismer (1933)

     The History Of Early Tennessee Banks And Their Issues
     Paul Garland (1983)

     Texas Obsolete Notes And Scrip
     Bob Medlar (1968)

     Vermont Obsolete Notes And Scrip
     Mayre Burns Coulter (1972)

     Virginia Obsolete Paper Money
     Richard and Keith Littlefield Jones (1992)

     Wisconsin Obsolete Bank Notes And Scrip
     Chester L. Krause (1994)

Exchange Bank of St. Louis

By: Handini

This is a proof on india paper from the Exchange Bank of St. Louis, MO. The pink, shown vertically in the middle of the note is from a rubber stamp, typical of proof notes, that states "Property Of The American Bank Note Company". This note came from the American Bank Note Company Sale of 1990 and is most likely the reason why it's still in pristine condition. This lovely note from the state of Missouri shows a beautiful vignette of Pilot Knob.

The portrait on the lower left is that of Louis V. Bogy (1813 - 1877) who was the bank's first president. (Source: Heritage).

$5 Exchange Bank Of St. Louis (Proof)
Image Contribution: Handini

Bank Of Gettysburg

By: Handini

Here is a lovely pair of proofs from the Bank Of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where a major civil war battle took place. These notes are from the 1850's. What's interesting about these two notes is that the are printed on card stock versus india paper. Most proofs tend to be printed on india paper so it is more difficult to find proofs on card stock. The reverse of these notes has a rubber stamp that says: "Property Of The American Bank Note Company". Being on card stock, the ink from the rubber stamp does not bleed through making the notes more attractive. The bleeding is evident in the photo of my $5 proof on India paper from the Exchange Bank Of St. Louis.

$5 Bank Of Gettysburg, PA (Proof)
Image Contribution: Handini

$10 Bank Of Gettysburg, PA (Proof)
Image Contribution: Handini

A Bankrupt City

By: Handini

Camden, New Jersey is a city without enough money to keep itself afloat. It has been dubbed the most dangerous city and is fixing to layoff a quarter of it's city workers.

This R-7 note from the State Bank at Camden near Philadelphia is a relic from Camden's past.  Issued in the 1810's, it's condition is similar to the current condition of the city from whence it came.

$5 State Bank At Camden, NJ (1810's)
Wait 342
Image Contribution: Handini

The Cataract City Bank

By: Handini

The Cataract City Bank of Paterson, NJ notes in my collection are some of my prized notes.  Not only do these notes have an interesting name for a bank but they also have interesting vignettes. Adding to their rarity is the fact that the bank only lasted for 4 years, from 1856-1860. (Source: Haxby).

I never seem to think about trying to locate the building in Paterson which used to be the location of the bank, whenever I go up to New Jersey. The vignette on the $1 shows some pigs pigging out, the $2 shows Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. The $3 shows progress and industry taking over. These notes are dated from 1856.

$1 Cataract City Bank of Paterson, NJ (1856)
Haxby NJ-410-G2c
Image Contribution: Handini

$2 Cataract City Bank of Paterson, NJ (1856)
Haxby NJ-410-G4c
Image Contribution: Handini

$3 Cataract City Bank of Paterson, NJ (1856)
Haxby NJ-410-G6c
Image Contribution: Handini

I was at a coin show in 1999 and a dealer mentioned how a $3 Cataract note had sold for over $1000. This amount was a lot for a broken bank note at that time but is a more common price today. I was fortunate to find the one above for considerably less due to the large tear found horizontally through the center of the note.

Not only is the $3 above (Wait 1836) listed as an R-7 note (Source: Wait), but it's vignette is an interesting one too. It's vignette shows Native Americans on a cliff observing smoke stacks in the distance. All of the environmental jargon the media has been fixated on these past few years helps to enhance the value of such a note because it shows the environmental impacts of industry at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

On a side note however, the Industrial Revolution is said to have begun around 1850, the same date the Little Ice Age is said to have "abruptly" ended. We humans cannot therefore be blamed for the initiation of any warming trend said to have occurred since then, as there would have been a lag time for anthropogenic causes to take effect. It's similar to how the hottest days of the year tend to occur a few weeks after Summer Solstice and the coldest days of the year tend to occur a few weeks after Winter Solstice.

Close Up Of Haxby NJ-410-G6c Vignette
Image Contribution: Handini

Here's a bonus $3 for show and tell:

$3 Cataract City Bank of Paterson, NJ (1856)
Image Contribution: Handini

Collecting Notes By Theme

By: Handini

One of the things that appeals to a collector is the image on a broken banknote. The following two notes make great examples:

$2 Stonington Bank of Stonington, CT (Remainder Note)
Haxby CT-415-G16a
Image Contribution: Handini 

$10 Allegany County Bank of Cumberland, MD (1860)
Haxby MD-155-G8b
Image Contribution: Handini

A numismatist who also collects nautical antiques would be interested in the $2 Stonington Bank, CT remainder note due to the whaling scene. This note also has the potential to appeal to fans of Moby Dick or even those who like the movie Orca. Fisherman from New England will also find interest in such a note not only due to the whale vignette but also to the fact that the note is from Connecticut.

The $10 Allegany County Bank, MD note will not only appeal to people from Cumberland or Allegany County, Maryland but also to coal miners or even geologists. That is because of the lovely vignette showing coal miners wearing head lamps. There is also a coal industry in Allegany county so this note also reveals the fact that this bank could have possibly helped finance a coal mine.

Collecting notes by vignettes not only makes an attractive collection but also creates a larger market for those notes.

Identifying A Contemporary Counterfeit Note

By: Handini

Contemporary Counterfeits are an interesting area of numismatics. While it is illegal to own counterfeit US currency, because it's still legal tender, counterfeits of obsolete currency are sometimes worth more than the actual note (if they were in circulation when the note was in circulation and are rarer than the original) and are legal to own.

This post does not involve modern day replicas and copies but more with counterfeits produced when the notes were actually in circulation.

Here are a couple of early notes from the Bank Of Cape Fear, NC.

$5 Bank Of Cape Fear branch at Wilmington, NC (1817)
Pennell 100
Image Contribution: Handini 

$50 Bank Of Cape Fear at Wilmington, NC (1817)
Pennell 290
Image Contribution: Handini

Both of these notes are dated 1917, and both have the president's signature of John London, albeit his signatures are not identical. R. Bradley's signature is seen as the cashier in the $5 note and W. Anderson's signature is seen as the cashier in the $50 note. The bank couldn't have had two different cashiers the same year unless one quit and the other took over.

So the $5 is in better shape and the $50 is in worse condition, as far as the circulation each note has experienced and disregarding the missing piece of the $50. While an expert will know that the $5 is crudely printed compared to the original, one who may not be able to identify it based on the printing can look at the historical records and identify who the cashier of the bank was back in 1817.

The following website,, lists the names of the presidents and cashiers during the lifespan of the Bank of Cape Fear for it's Wilmington Branch and the other branches that existed throughout the State of North Carolina. It is evident that John London was the president from 1811 - 1816, Richard Bradley was the cashier from 1811 - 1815, and William Anderson was the cashier from 1815 - 1827.

While William Anderson was the cashier in 1817 and Richard Bradley was not, John London was the president until his death in 1816, and John Rutherford London was the president from 1823 - 1832. Could both notes be counterfeit? If they were then they may have been produced by different counterfeiters.

The 1817 $5 Bank of Cape Fear note is listed as Haxby NC90-C80. The C80 designation, instead of G80, proves that it is a counterfeit note, showing a picture of the counterfeit variety in Haxby also helped by matching the signatures, and the banking records confirm that Richard Bradley was not the cashier in 1817. The 1817 $50 Bank Of Cape Fear note is listed as Haxby NC90-G146. It cannot be Haxby NC90-C146, which would be the counterfeit variety, because the counterfeit variety, according to Haxby, is dated in 1816. The $50 shown above however, is a counterfeit and unlisted in Haxby since John London was not the president in 1817.

Many thanks to Ron at for his insight.

Collecting Plate Notes

By: Handini

Plate notes are notes where an image of them are found in a book. Due to the rarity of these notes, it is not difficult to acquire a plate note for one's collection.

If one is specifically collecting plate notes, an R-7 note is easier to find a plate note for than an R-1. The reason being is that if one was searching for a note from a particular bank and wanted the plate note found in a certain book, and there are only 3 of them in existence, then there is a one in three chance that that note could be the plate note. If on the other hand there are 200 notes then the chances of finding the plate note for that bill would drastically dwindle.

$5 Bank Of The South County of South Kingstown, RI (1855)
Plate Note of Durand 1260 found on page 211
Obsolete Notes And Scrip of Rhode Island and The Providence Plantations by: Roger H. Durand (1981)
Image Contribution: Handini

While the above plate note is easy to identify by matching the serial number and graffiti on the note with that pictured in the book, the perceptive collector will be able to identify less obvious plate notes. The note listed below is also a plate note.

Plate Note of Wait 1280 found on page 213
New Jersey's Money By: George W. Wait (1976)
Image Contribution: Handini

While there is no serial number on this note, the edge nicks, signature, to even the slight graffiti (faint red line on right side) match the image on page 213 of the book.

The Farmers Bank of New Jersey

By: Handini

Not all banks from before the civil war went out of business. The Farmers Bank of Mount Holly, NJ is an example. It became the Farmers' National Bank of New Jersey at Mount Holly in 1865 and eventually the Farmer's Trust Company in 1912 Source: New Jersey's Money by George W. Wait (1976).

6.25 cents, Farmer's Bank of Mount Holly, NJ (1815)
Wait 1348
Image Contribution: Handini

12.5 cents, Farmer's Bank of Mount Holly, NJ (1815)
Plate Note of Wait 1280 found on page 213
Image Contribution: Handini

$10 Farmer's Bank of Mount Holly, NJ (1849)
Wait 1313
Image Contribution: Handini

The Waubeek Bank

By: Handini

The Waubeek Bank of De Soto Nebraska was an unauthorized bank which operated in 1857. Source: Standard Catalog of United States Obsolete Bank Notes 1782-1866 By James A. Haxby (1988).

There are only 4 denominations of notes from this bank and all of them are listed with a rarity of 4 (26 to 50 notes known to exist (Source: Territorial Banking In Nebraska by Leonard M. Owen (1984)). Consequently, this isn't a difficult set to compile. There were many altered notes from this bank which would make nice accessories to a collection of Waubeek Bank notes.

$1 Waubeek Bank of De Soto, NE (1857)
Haxby NE-30-G2a
Image Contribution: Handini

$2 Waubeek Bank of De Soto, NE (1857)
Haxby NE-30-G4a
Image Contribution: Handini

$3 Waubeek Bank of De Soto, NE (1857)
Haxby NE-30-G6a
Image Contribution: Handini

$5 Waubeek Bank of De Soto, NE (1857)
Haxby NE-30-G8a
Image Contribution: Handini

The Virginia James River Bank

By: Handini

People didn't want to accept Virginian paper money that the colony issued these notes instead. Rather than print their own new currency however, the state obtained these bills which were printed in England for a bank that never did formulate. Source:

12 pounds, Virginia James River Bank of VA (1775)
Image Contribution: Handini

This 12 pounds note (dated September 1, 1775) is signed by Philip Johnson, William Norvell, and Robert Carter Nicholas. Robert Carter Nicholas was also the treasurer of the bank.

I've tried researching the signatures to determine who these people were, although I could not confirm the information I found to be of these signers.  Robert Carter Nicholas (1715 - 1780) was the Virginia Treasurer and also opposed the Declaration of Independence. Philip Johnson was the colonial Virginia Justice of the Peace, and signed the Albermarle Declaration of Independance. Willam Norvell (1746 - 1794) was from Williamsburg, VA, and was the son of George Norvell who signed the Albermarle Declaration of Independance. He was also the sherif of Virginia in the 1760's.

Rarity Scale

All varieties of obsolete notes are quite rare. In the 1970's the Society of Paper Money Collectors published books by state on obsolete currency and provided the following scale:

R 1        ∞ – 200 notes known to exist
R 2     100 – 200 notes known to exist
R 3       50 – 100 notes known to exist
R 4       25 –   50 notes known to exist
R 5       10 –   25 notes known to exist
R 6         5 –   10 notes known to exist
R 7         1 –     5 notes known to exist
Source: Mississippi Obsolete Paper Money and Scrip, L. Candler Leggett (1975).

While this is the main scale implemented at identifying how rare a note is, it is not the only scheme used. South Carolina Obsolete Notes, by Austin M. Sheheen, Jr. (1960) uses a 15 point scale, with 15 being reserved for notes of 3 or less known to exist.
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