Advertising notes have always been an interest of mine. These notes
were typically designed to at least remotely resemble legitimate notes
in circulation. Some were better likenesses than others but the goal
was the same — capture the recipient’s attention long enough to
deliver the issuer’s advertising message.
Some advertising notes served only this purpose while others
actually offered the holder some financial incentive to make a purchase.
James N. Weaver of Richmond, Ind., issued a $6 advertising note
sometime around 1872.
Although the note is clearly a nongenuine denomination, it bears
at least a passing resemblance to the 1863 $5 legal tender note that
was still in circulation when these advertising notes were being
The design was not close enough to attract the attention of the
Secret Service but just enough to catch the attention of a potential customer.
While most of advertising notes were issued by dry goods merchants
and other similar firms, it’s always interesting to run across the
occasional “odd” issuer. Weaver and his notes fit the bill.
According to the 1870 and 1880 census, Weaver was a “barber.” In
addition, another family member or boarder was listed as a
“hairdresser” in both census records.
And this fits in with the products being promoted by the note —
hair goods! This was a bit surprising to me as a male. I had always
assumed that all those fancy female hairdos in 19th century America
were completely the “real thing.”
As it turns out, Weaver was busy producing a variety of hair
pieces such as “switches, curls, frizetts, puffs, chignons, braids
& c.” that could be added to a lady’s basic hairdo (they still
exist today under the same names).
The back of the note indicates that most of these were made of
real hair, with “switches” selling for the lofty sum of from $3 to
$20. In 1872 this represented a significant investment in beauty.
It also makes me wonder — what happened to all the hair that
Weaver and his hairdressers removed from female customers’ heads
during the course of a day’s business?
Just another mystery connected to obsolete bank notes! Collectors
should be on the lookout for odd advertising notes the next time they
peruse a dealer’s stock.
Wendell Wolka has been a paper money collector and educator for
more than 40 years. If you have questions or suggestions, you can
email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.