Black River Bank

The Black River Bank of Watertown, New York was established in 1844 and ran until 1864 when it became the First National Bank of Watertown (Source: Haxby).

The following denominations exist for this bank: $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, $20, $50 (Source: Haxby). Shown below is a counterfeit example of the $3 note (Haxby NY-2845-G6f).

$3 Black River Bank, Watertown, NY (1862)
Haxby NY-2845-C6g
Image Contribution: Handini

Bank Of River Raisen

Notes from the Bank Of River Raisen of Monroe, Michigan have not yet become expensive to own. It also has an interesting name "River Raisen" which sounds mythical, like the River Styx for example. The following note is a well worn example from the bank.

$2 Bank Of River Raisen, Monroe, MI (1844)
Image Contribution: Handini

Cochituate Bank

Here is a lovely $5 from the Cochituate Bank of Boston, Massachusetts from 1853. Cochituate is an Indian word which means "clear rushing water" (Source: Heritage).

The $5 note below shows a lovely shipping vignette on the top left and a sailor on the right. Sometimes banks would have vignettes on their notes characteristic to the type of industry in their area. These shipping scenes on here are most likely due to the fact that the note comes from Boston, a city which has a harbor.

$1 Cochituate Bank, Boston, MA (1850)
Image Contribution: Handini 

$2 Cochituate Bank, Boston, MA (1850)
Image Contribution: Handini

$5 Cochituate Bank, Boston, MA (1853)
Image Contribution: Handini

Another example of a note which would have vignettes based on the main industry in the area the bank was from is the Allegany County Bank.

Planters Bank Of Fairfield, South Carolina

The Planters Bank Of Fairfield, Winnsboro, SC was chartered back in 1852 with a capital of $300,000 (Source: Sheheen).

$5 Planters Bank Of Fairfield, Winnsboro, South Carolina (1854)
Sheheen #148
Image Contribution: Handini

$5 Planters Bank Of Fairfield, Winnsboro, South Carolina (1857)
Sheheen #150
Image Contribution: Handini

$10 Planters Bank Of Fairfield, Winnsboro, South Carolina (1853)
Sheheen #151
Image Contribution: Handini

The $5 note has a rarity value of 2 and the $10 has a rarity value of 3. These notes are sought after by collectors of Americana due to the central vignette on the $5 note which shows slaves picking cotton with an overseer on a horse keeping a watchful eye. The vignette on the lower left of the $10 note is also found on other notes.

Central Vignette Of $5 Notes
Image Contribution: Handini

South Carolina Obsolete Notes By: Austin M. Sheheen, Jr.

The book South Carolina Obsolete Notes by Austin M. Sheheen, Jr. is an 80 page paperback booklet. Page 3 has a table of contents to make it easy to find the bank one is looking for. It uses a 15 point scale for rarities with a rarity of 15 being reserved for notes with 3 or fewer known to exist.

The notes are given catalog numbers based on their location in the book beginning with a value of 1 for a $5 South Carolina Revenue Bond Scrip from 1872 (shown below) up to a value of 414, indicating that only 414 notes are listed in the book.

$5 State Of South Carolina (1872)
Sheheen #1
Image Contribution: Handini

This book has been reprinted in recent years so it should not be too difficult to locate a copy.

Recurring Vignettes

One can choose to collect notes based on vignettes. Sometimes the same vignette can be seen on different notes, from different banks, and on different denominations.

$5 Central Bank Of Virginia (1860)
Image Contribution: Handini 

$10 Planters Bank Of Fairfield (1853)
Image Contribution: Handini

Both the $5 from Staunton, VA and the $10 from Winnsboro, SC have the same vignette of men, oxen, etc. at the lower left corner. A train theme remains in the lower right of both notes, although they're not the same. A similar theme occurs in the central vignette also.

North American Currency By Grover Criswell

By: Handini

The book North American Currency by Grover C. Criswell Jr. (1969) is a thousand pages long and covers a wide array of currency, including notes from Mexico and Canada. It lists a plethora of notes from banks as well as merchant's scrip. Although not exhaustive, it is a good resource on notes as it has notes from various states listed. Criswell's catalog numbers for these notes are still in use today. So although the book was published over 40 years ago, it is still a useful reference.

The book also presents a price guide for the notes by providing two values for each note, one for circulated and another one for uncirculated examples. While the prices are out of date, one can see what these notes were worth back in the day and compare their values to today's market. Keep in mind that the US dollar is worth much less today than it was back then. Rarity values however, are not listed.

Obsolete Banknotes Of North Carolina By: J. Roy Pennell Jr.

The book Obsolete Banknotes Of North Carolina by J. Roy Pennell Jr. was written in 1985 and is a mere 48 pages only. The book focuses only on Banks and not on merchant's scrip, depression scrip, etc.

Although, banks are the main focus of the book, it is not comprehensive. For example, the Bank of Cape Fear does not have notes from the different branches listed, although it does list the cities the branches were located in. Moreover, Haxby lists $1 and $2 denominations for the Bank of Cape Fear and yet, Pennell only lists denominations from $3 and above.

Unlike other books, rarity values are not listed for the notes presented. To make matters worse, on page 5 it reads: "A table of valuations will be found at the back of the book". No such table is to be found at the back of the book. It does, however, have a list of other books by the publisher as well as other books on obsolete notes.

Confederate Bonds And Certificates

The book Confederate Bonds And Certificates by C. J. Affleck and B. M. Douglas (1960) contains only 38 pages but it is a useful booklet with rarities listed. The rarity scale is not provided in the book but the highest rarity I could find is a rarity of 7 so I would imagine that it is on a 7 point scale.

This book is great for collectors of Confederate Bonds, although most currency collectors may acquire a bond coupon rather than an entire bond.

Territorial Banking In Nebraska By Leonard M. Owen (1984)

By: Handini

The Book Territorial Banking In Nebraska by Leonard M. Owen (1984) is more of a 44 page pamphlet then a larger volume. It is a reprint from The Centinel, a journal published by the Central States Numismatic Society.

Although it's small by comparison to books on currency from other states, it consists of a listing of the notes from 18 banks that operated in Nebraska. Moreover, it provides a historical narrative on banks from each of the 8 cities from which these banks were based.

The rarities of these notes are based on the 7 point scale and notes from Nebraska can be found in all rarities but one. I didn't find any notes in the book with a rarity of 2.

New Jersey's Money By George W. Wait

The book New Jersey's Money by George W. Wait was published in 1976 by the Newark Museum. It is a hardcover book consisting of a blue cover with a brown spine, and 434 pages of currency bliss. It covers more than just broken bank notes and merchant's scrip of New Jersey. Included is a section of colonial notes from New Jersey, a section of NJ national bank notes, and a section of NJ Depression scrip. The section on Broken bank notes and scrip included rarity values based on the 7 point scale.

The book includes many black and white images as well as the years each bank opened and closed, etc. Shown below is a portion of page 213 where an image of Wait #1280 is coupled with it's respective plate note (the one in color). The description of the note is on page 212 claims that the note is an R-7 note.

A sample from New Jersey's Money by George W. Wait
Image Contribution: Handini

This book is invaluable for collectors interested in currency from New Jersey. Haxby sometimes lists more varieties of some notes than found in Wait. For example, The Cataract City Bank of Paterson, NJ has 5 different variations of the $3, shown on page 1347 of Volume 2 but there are only 3 listed on page 280 of Wait. Nevertheless, the fact that Wait lists rarities of these notes, as well as shows merchant's scrip, colonials, and depression scrip, this book remains essential to the New Jersey obsolete currency collector and is highly recommended.

The Bank Of East Tennessee

The Bank Of East Tennessee operated from 1850 - 1858. Although it's headquarters was in Knoxville, TN, it had several branches including the branch at Jonesboro (shown below). The Jonesboro branch ran from 1854 - 1855. Listed as an R-8 note. I believe it's out of the 15 point scale, although I do not currently own the book on Tennessee notes.

Although the vignette of this $5 can be found on some notes from other banks, what I really like about it on this example is how the name of the bank is arched to conform to the central vignette. The vignette is also interesting as it shows a female reaching for an apple from an angel. Could it be a reference to chapter 3 of the book of Genesis where the angel is Lucifer before he fell and became Satan? The woman, if she represents eve, is wearing black probably alluding to the dismal fate of mankind after eating of the forbidden fruit.

$5 Bank Of East Tennessee branch at Jonesboro (1855) Obverse
Image Contribution: Handini

$5 Bank Of East Tennessee branch at Jonesboro (1855) Reverse
Image Contribution: Handini

What is interesting about this note is the fact that it is difficult to identify in Haxby because the obverse is that of design 5c and the reverse is design 5d. Haxby's catalog numbers are TN-55-G96a for a note with design 5c and TN-G96-98a for a note with design 5d. Of course, this appears to be how these notes are found so this note is not unique at all. It's just something interesting to note.

Standard Catalog Of United States Obsolete Bank Notes (1782-1866) By James Haxby

The Standard Catalog Of United States Obsolete Bank Notes (1782-1866) By James A. Haxby is one of the best resources on broken banknotes. Published by Krause in 1988, it consists of 4 volumes. The book is not currently in print and is in high demand. Although it originally retailed for under $200, it generally sells in today's market for between $500 - $650. Krause has re-released this volume on a 4-CD set which retails for $250. Individual states can be purchased separately if desired. The prices of the notes listed have not been updated however.

Here are the states covered by each volume:

     Volume 1
               •     Alabama
               •     Arkansas
               •     Connecticut
               •     Delaware
               •     District Of Columbia
               •     Florida Georgia
               •     Illinois
               •     Indiana
               •     Iowa
               •     Kansas
               •     Louisiana
               •     Maine
               •     Maryland

     Volume 2
               •     Massachusetts
               •     Michigan
               •     Minnesota
               •     Mississippi
               •     Missouri
               •     Nebraska
               •     New Hampshire
               •     New Jersey

     Volume 3
               •     New York
               •     North Carolina
               •     Ohio

     Volume 4
               •     Pennsylvania
               •     Rhode Island
               •     South Carolina
               •     Tennessee
               •     Utah
               •     Vermont
               •     Wisconsin
               •     Banks Of The United States
               •     Miscellaneous

Keep in mind that this catalog focuses on bank notes and therefore does not include merchant's scrip, etc. One thing to note also is that many of the notes are listed as SENC (Surviving Example Not Confirmed) but have since come out of hiding. Also, while this book is the most comprehensive one to date, it is not exhaustive. For example, The Fort Plain Bank of Fort Plain, New York has only notes of $1 and higher listed. Fractional denominations from that bank are not listed.

Overall, this volume is an incredible resource on broken banknotes, although rarity ratings are not listed.

When I purchased my copy of this book I found it online from a bookseller in Canada. Fortunately, my copy arrived in mint condition with an added bonus. On the inside of the front cover of each book has a plaque that indicates that the books in my possession were presented to the associate author of the book. If only she had signed them. . . .

Plaque On The Inside Of Each Cover Of My Personal Copy
Image Contribution: Handini

Types Of Reverses

Most broken banknotes were one-sided with plain reverses such as the reverse of the following R-7 plate note from the book: Obsolete Notes And Scrip of Rhode Island and The Providence Plantations by: Roger H. Durand (1981). When notes exhibited overprints of different colors, they sometimes soaked through and are visible on the reverse.

$5 Bank Of The South County of South Kingstown, RI (1855)
Image Contribution: Handini

Because most notes were printed on one side only, if not all the notes printed were issued, the uncut sheets would have other notes printed on the other side and issued. They would generally be printed on the reverse and at a 90 degree angle to the prior printing as seen in the following $1 reverse of the Bank Of Augusta, Georgia.

$1 Bank Of Augusta, GA (Remainder)
Image Contribution: Handini

The reverse of the above $1 Bank Of Augusta note has fractional notes from the same bank as shown above. This feature is not only characteristic of broken banknotes. Some Southern States issues from the Civil War era also "recycled" paper. The following is the reverse of an 1862 North Carolina 50 cent note priinted on the back of a NC bond. The $40 bond coupons on the reverse are seen below.

50 cents State Of NC (1862)
Image Contribution: Handini

Some notes had the names of the stockholders on the reverse. I figure that this gave one confidence in accepting the note if they knew who the people that ran the institution are. One example is the following $1 note from the Dubuque Central Improvement Company of Dubuque, Iowa (1858).

$1 The Dubuque Central Improvement Company, Dubuque, IA (1858)
Image Contribution: Handini

At times, a list of handwritten signatures can be found on the reverse of some notes. There were many counterfeits made to the Waubeek Bank of De Soto, Nebraska (1857). To insure that one was receiving a genuine note, the person spending the note would sign the reverse. This allowed one to trace it back to the original spender in case the note was indeed a counterfeit. The following reverse is from an authentic $5 note from the Waubeek Bank.

$5 Waubeek Bank, De Soto, NE (1857)
Image Contribution: Handini

At times, a banknote would have a beautiful vignette on the reverse such as the following from a $5 note from the Bank Of East Tennessee.

$5 The Bank Of East Tennessee, Knoxville, branch at Jonesboro, TN (1855)
Image Contribution: Handini

Notes that have reverses sometimes don't get their reverses perfectly centered. While slightly askew reverses can be readily available on 1861 NC one dollar notes, being drastically off centered, such as the note below, is quite rare of an error. The one dollar is supposed to be perfectly centered on the reverse.

$1 State Of North Carolina Error Note (1861)
Image Contribution: Handini

Celebrities On Broken Banknotes

Sometimes celebrities were featured on broken bank notes. Shown below, is an R-7 note from Plymouth, IN with the image of Jenny Lind. Jenny Lind was a famous Swedish opera singer from the 1800's and her image can be found on several notes. She came on tour to the United States in 1850 (Source: and so the following note is dated July 15, 1853, after her well received reception.

$2 Western Bank, Plymouth Indiana (1853)
Image Contribution: Handini

And, of course, Elvis was featured on some broken banknotes also. I mean that goes without saying.

$20 Manual Labor Bank, Philadelphia, PA (1836)
Hoober 305-365
Image Contribution: Handini

Elvis Presley

It is often said that one has to be dead to appear on a postage stamp. With Broken Bank Notes however, one does not even have to be born. Case in point is the following note from the Manual Labor Bank of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1836. Featured in the main vignette of this R-4 $20 note from the bank is a vignette of people in a glass factory. The central figure in the vignette is dressed like, and even looks like Elvis Presley, making this a popular bank for both collectors and Elvis fans.

Most of the notes from this bank are R-4 notes with some varieties being rated as R-5 or R-6 notes Source: Pennsylvania Obsolete Notes And Scrip by Richard T. Hoober (1985). Also, according to Hoober, the bank failed in 1839 since Dr. Thomas W. Dyott, who ran the bank, wouldn't redeem the notes. He was imprisoned but then pardoned. His signature is the one on the lower right.

$20 Manual Labor Bank, Philadelphia, PA (1836)
Hoober 305-365
Image Contribution: Handini

Close Up Of Main Vignette With Central Figure Resembling Elvis Presley
Image Contribution: Handini

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