Turning lemons into lemonade — this happens often to collectors of
obsolete scrip notes that include the name of a town but not of the state.
You find a note with the name of a town on it that you assume must
be from your state because, after all, how many towns would have this name?
Then you find out there are absolutely other states that lay claim
to the town name, and you ultimately determine that the note is from
Your pride in getting the note is significantly diminished, and
you try to find it a new home with a collector from its own state.
My experience was with a plain little scrip note datelined “Yellow
Springs” payable at Johnston, Jack & Co. Yellow Springs, Ohio, is
located in the southwest portion of the state. The note bears no
printed reference to a state, but I just knew it had to be an Ohio
note, using the logic just described.
Alarms started to ring when I could not find any reference to
Johnston or Jack in any of my go-to resources like Ancestors.com or
Someone then gently pointed out that Dick Hoober had listed this
issuer in his Pennsylvania catalog back in 1985. I grudgingly conceded
that the note was, in fact, from Pennsylvania.
I had mostly unsigned remainders in my collection but ran across a
signed example recently while updating my collection database. The
signer, I found, was one “James Kinkead.”
So I fired up Ancestry.com and started looking through the 1860
At first, no success, but after fiddling with the name, out popped
a “Jas. Kinkead” who was a 47-year-old merchant living near Yellow
Springs, Pa., in 1860.
James Kinkead, as it turns out, is an unlisted issuer for
Pennsylvania, with this being the discovery note.
While finding discovery notes or new issuers is not a rare
occurrence in the field of obsolete paper money, it was still a nice
outcome for a situation that had created so much disappointment originally.
In the field of obsolete paper money, it always pays to do a
little research no matter how sure you are about a note’s origins.
Sometimes the answer will surprise you!
Wendell Wolka has been a paper money collector and educator for
more than 40 years. If you have questions or suggestions, you can
reach him by email at email@example.com, or by mail at
Box 1211, Greenwood, IN 46142. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope
if a written response is required.