Look-alike paper money used to advertise services and products
- Published: Jun 19, 2014, 10 AM
Editor's note: The following is the second of a four-part Coin World series about propaganda notes prepared by Michele Orzano for the July 2014 monthly edition of Coin World.
Other posts in the series include:
- Wartime propaganda notes send messages to enemies
- 'Short snorters' promote simply being alive
- Fed employee initial stamps: Fact or fiction?
Something as simple as scribbling a political or social slogan on a piece of cash places the note into the broad category of propaganda notes. That broad category includes everything from deliberate messages to undermine a nation during wartime to using a note-look-alike design to catch the eye of a potential customer when advertising a business or service.
Genuine and facsimile U.S. and world notes have been widely used to spread propaganda for decades.
Collecting these items makes for a fun jaunt off the traditional collecting path.
Advertising propaganda money promotes 'wonder cures'
Advertising notes can be made from cash look-alikes and that puts them into the broad category of propaganda money.
Advertising notes handed out by traveling salesmen who roamed the United States in the late 1800s have been a part of America’s culture for more than a century. Many manufacturers of so-called “wonder cures” made use of advertising notes.
The example of an advertising note illustrated here has a design on the face that looks like a genuine 1864 $10 Confederate States of America note.
However, for the person who looks closely, there’s a clue at the bottom of the face design. A notation indicates the piece is a FAC SIMILE.
The back design is more quickly identifiable as an advertising flyer from the early 1900s. The text indicates the “note” is worth $1 on a $10 purchase, a 10 percent discount at State Furniture Company located in Omaha, Neb.
These types of “notes” were often “issued” by nonexistent banks and distributed as a way to get the word out about an advertiser’s product.
Most of these promotional items bear a numeral or denomination marking, and some even feature vignettes very similar to those then found on genuine circulating paper currency.
The Uncirculated furniture “note” sold for $15 at a Jan. 28, 2014, Heritage auction. Advertising notes are most often found in auctions and dealer lists among listings for obsolete notes.