You never know what you may find in a stack of old papers. Sometimes
you get lucky, as did Antonio Alessandrini, the proprietor of
Numismatica Globus in Caracas, Venezuela. Some time ago, the dealer
says, he bought a file from the family of Gen. Nicolás Rolando.
Rolando was a military and political leader of the late 19th and
early 20th centuries. In 1894, he was elected constitutional president
of Venezuela’s Bermudez State, and after that he served in many civil,
military, and revolutionary roles. He obviously signed many documents,
and as Alessandrini was moving his office recently, he came across the
file again and gave it another look. He discovered a number of state
bank notes, called “Crédito Público del Estado Bermudez,” of different
values, that he says “have never been known before,” all with
Rolando’s signature as president of Bermudez State.
Make your ‘worthless’ note worth something
Have you noticed the weapons depicted on early American notes?
John Kraljevich Jr. puzzles over what’s generally missing from that
arsenal, in his “Collecting Paper” column.
He sold two of them recently, a 1,000-bolivar note and a 1-bolivar
note, for over $1,500 in an auction on his website. Both were printed
and issued in the Venezuelan city of Barcelona and are dated by hand
June 10, 1896. Each measures about 7 inches by 6.5 inches and has the
signatures of five other officials. The serial numbers (60 for the
1-bolivar note and 77 for the 1,000-bolivar note) are handwritten.
Archival documents show a printing of 200 of the former and 110 of the
latter. It is not known if all were placed into circulation.
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These notes were authorized on March 16, 1896, and the March 23 date
printed on them is the date of general issue and possibly the day they
were printed. Nine denominations were authorized. Of them, the 1-, 5-,
10-, 20- and 40-bolívar notes were not usually used as public debt
bonds. Rather they are values meant to be used in payments, as other
similar issues of the time. The notes did not pay interest, making
them analogous to the contemporary issues of Venezuelan banks.
Alessandrini speculates that very few of these notes have survived.
He will offer other denominations in future auctions and may be
contacted by email.