Often a piece of paper money almost speaks as you page through an
auction catalog. You cannot help but want to know the story behind it.
A case in point is the uniface 25-cent “music trade currency” piece
illustrated here. The piece, formerly part of the Wendell Wolka
Collection of Ohio obsolete notes, recently sold for $763.75 (just
below the estimate of $800 to $1,000). The note was sold by Heritage
Auctions April 28 during the internet-only auction held in conjunction
with the Central States Numismatic Society convention in Schaumburg, Ill.
The piece, graded Uncirculated by Heritage, is a remainder note,
meaning it was an unissued note left over after its issuer stopped
issuing the pieces.
In addition to a beautiful vignette showing half a dozen musical
instruments, text on the note promised the bearer that it could be
used toward a purchase in the store in Cleveland, Ohio.
An ink pen was use to place X’s along the bottom of the piece where
the date and serial number would be hand-printed, preventing the
unissued note from being used.
The note was produced for S. Brainard & Co., a Cleveland music
publishing business owned by Silas Brainard, according to Wolka’s A
History of Nineteenth Century Ohio Obsolete Bank Notes and Scrip.
Brainard founded his music publishing house in 1836, eventually
adding the sale of musical instruments and sheet music.
In 1865 he brought his two oldest sons, Charles Silas Brainard and
Henry Mould Brainard, into the business as partners and the name was
changed to Silas Brainard & Co. When Silas died in 1871, his sons
changed the name of the business to S. Brainard & Sons. Five years
later they built a four-story building to accommodate the store and
By 1889 Charles had moved the company to Chicago, while Henry
remained in Cleveland.