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Note Models in FUN Auction
By Wendell Wolka, Bank Note Reporter
December 18, 2012

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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A group of nine National Bank Note face and back models has recently been discovered that gives collectors and researchers new insights into how the Bureau of Engraving and Printing managed the design conversion from 1882 Brown Back and 1902 Red Seal series notes to their Date Back replacements.

Before going further, a bit of history is in order. The Panic of 1907 made it painfully clear that the portion of the money supply represented by the circulation of the country’s national banks was inelastic—meaning that it was not easy to quickly expand the amount of money in circulation during economic downturns. On May 30, 1908, Congress passed the so-called Emergency Currency Act, which came to be known as the Aldrich-Vreeland Act. This legislation allowed national banks to issue currency backed by securities other than United States bonds such as state and municipal bonds or some types of short-term loans.

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This relaxation of requirements led to a number of changes for banks issuing 1902 Red Seal and 1882 Brown Back notes. The most visible change involved changing note designs. The security statement on notes originally indicated that they were secured by United States Bonds. With the advent of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act, this was modified to indicate that the notes were “Secured by United States Bonds Or Other Securities.”

The BEP swung into action in 1908 and prepared a series of mock-ups or models for what the new 1882 Date Back and 1902 Date Back notes would look like. The changes to the Red Seal notes were minimal, but the Brown Back notes were subjected to an extensive redesign–particularly on the backs. Enter Louis A. Coolidge, who served as Assistant Treasurer of the United States for 14 months from 1908-1909. He was intimately involved in the production and storage of $500 million in bank notes that were inventoried under the provisions of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act.

Heritage Auctions of Dallas received a consignment for their upcoming Signature Currency sale in Orlando, Fla., from the heirs of Mr. Coolidge, made up of nine face and back models mounted on card and the Treasury Department envelope in which they had apparently been kept by Mr. Coolidge. Based on the note models from the Coolidge archive, some interesting things pop out:

The “host” notes that were used for these models were originally pulled from plates used to print 1882 Brown Back and 1902 Red Seal note faces and backs for specific banks (less treasury seals and serial numbers.) The banks involved were:

• The Commercial National Bank of Youngstown (Ohio) – $5 1882 Brown Back face and back (Two 1882 Brown Back $5 notes currently reported in census);
• The Second National Bank of Dubuque (Iowa) – $10 and $20 1882 Brown Back faces and backs (Four 1882 Brown Back $10 and one $20 notes currently reported);
• The Merchants National Bank of Burlington (Iowa) – $50 and $100 1882 Brown Back faces and backs (No 1882 Brown Back $50 or $100 notes currently reported);
• The First National Bank of Quincy (Wash.) – $5 1902 Red Seal face and back (No 1902 Red Seal $5 notes currently reported in census);
• The First National Bank of Amherst (Mass.) – $20 Red Seal face and back (No 1902 Red Seal $20 notes currently reported in census);
• The Corn Exchange National Bank, Philadelphia (Pa.) – $50 and $100 Red Seal faces and backs (No 1902 Red Seal $50 or $100 notes currently reported in census).

Looking at the 1882 Brown Back to 1882 Date Back conversions first:

• “Series of 1882” remained part of the face plate on the $5. All that was changed was the “Secured by…” statement;
• The models for all of the larger denominations have a small “Series of 1882” included as part of the face plate. This was not done in the final approved version of the designs. Each face design also includes a pasted over text, altering the “Secured By…” verbiage to the liberalized version.
The backs on the Brown Backs required significantly more rework:

• The entire new back design on the $5, with the exception of the four corner denominations, was pasted over the original Brown Back design area. This is because the back layout on the $5 is different from the higher denomination Brown Back designs;
• The back model for the $5 includes a portrait of Washington on the left with the date 1889 blacked out. This allows us to state, without reservation, that the original source for the left vignette on all $5 1882 Date Back notes was the State of Washington seal used originally on Washington state Brown Backs;
• The back designs for the larger denominations were accomplished by pasting a simple panel with “1882 - 1908” (hand drawn) in the old central charter number design area. The side oval vignettes, when new, were glued into place.

The 1902 Red Seal conversions were simpler:

• The “Secured by…” statement was altered on each face;
• “1902” and “1908” were added directly to each back.

It is likely that these nine face and back models, which make up a complete denomination set of 1882 Date Back ($5, $10, $20, $50, $100) and a nearly complete denomination set of 1902 Date Back ($5, $20, $50, $100) notes, are unique.

Mr. Coolidge’s numismatic legacy also includes some additional unique hand-drawn renditions of the faces of seven Legal Tender notes, eight Gold Certificates, and seven Silver Certificates.

These curious artist renderings are done pen-and-ink style on card stock and are contained in three Treasury Department-Official Business envelopes with handwritten notations about the contents. The purpose of these renderings is unknown, although we speculate that they may have simply been requested by Coolidge so that he had a reference set at hand without going to the trouble of having proofs pulled. What, if any, connection these may have had to the Date Back conversion program is presently unknown.

Envelope 1 has the handwritten notation:

“Descriptions of the / Obverses of / United States Legal Tender Notes / $5. $10. $20. $50. $100 $500. $1000.”

Hand-drawn renditions on cardstock of the $5 1907 Series, $10 1901 Series, $20 1880 series, $50 1880 Series, $100 1880 Series, $500 1875 Series, and $1,000 1880 Series Legal Tender Notes accompany the envelope.

Envelope 2 has the handwritten notation:

“Descriptions of / Issues of / Gold Certificates / $10. $20. $50. $100 $500. $1,000. $5,000. $10,000.”

Hand-drawn renditions on card stock of the $10 1907 Series, $20 1906 series, $50 1882 Series, $100 1882 Series, $500 1882 Series, $1,000 1907 Series, $5,000 1882 Series, and $10,000 1882 Series Gold Certificates accompany the envelope.

Envelope 3 has the handwritten notation:

“Description of / Obverse of / Silver Certificates / $1. $2. $5. $10. $20. $50. $100.” Hand-drawn renditions on card stock of the $1 1899 Series, $2 1899 Series, $5 1899 Series, $10 1908, $20 1891 Series, $50 1891 Series, and $100 1891 Series Silver Certificates accompany the envelope.

Like the National Bank Note series conversion models, it is believed that these unusual hand-drawn renditions are each unique.

Heritage’s Signature Currency auction will be held from Jan. 9-14 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. For additional information, visit – Editor.

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