Obsolete notes are sometimes found with rubber-stamped notices from
various bankers, brokers and other entities. Some collectors consider
these stamps as a bad thing but I find them to be enhancements to the
character of the note.
These stamps often indicated that a note was worthless (witness
numerous counterfeit and spurious notes sporting a huge COUNTERFEIT
stamp from the Suffolk Bank or the Bank of Mutual Redemption in
Boston, who acted as the “policemen” for detecting such notes in New England).
While those are quite interesting, I’ve always found the local
stamps of brokers even more interesting. The business of these
exchange brokers was to make a market in various notes whose worth
often hinged on their assessment of the health of the issuers. A
stamped note usually indicated that the note was at least not
worthless for the time being — a stamp of approval, so to speak, by
the exchange broker.
The note shown above was issued by a resuscitated Miami Exporting
Co. in 1839. The Cincinnati bank, which had originally been chartered
in 1803, ceased active operation in 1822, remained dormant until 1834
and then sputtered back to life until it failed once and for all on
Jan. 10, 1842. The failure resulted in a riot the next day that saw
its offices sacked by an unruly street mob. Records and more than
$220,000 in worthless notes were thrown into the street. To provide an
idea of the bank’s ability to redeem its circulation at the time of
its failure, only $1,261 in specie was found in the safe during the riot.
But back to happier times. The note is stamped by Massol &
Co., Brokers, No. 7 Main St., Louisville, Ky. From an 1838 to 1839
Louisville city directory, it appears that the firm of F. A. Massol
& Co. was in business as a “lottery and exchange broker.” The
principal’s name was Florian A. Massol, a young man only 20 or 21
years old. By 1850, Massol had moved to New York where he was
apparently part of a merchant partnership. In 1853, he had again
moved, this time to Sacramento, Calif., where he was listed in the
census as a “hardware merchant.” I finally lost track of Massol in
1883 when he was listed as living in Los Gatos, Calif. Perhaps more
than you ever wanted to know, but we at least have been able to add a
number of bricks to the ever growing “Wall of Knowledge.”
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.