Paper Money

Obsolete notes from Ohio, Texas stars in sale

An 1837 $1 note issued by the Kirtland (Ohio) Safety Society Bank brought $7,200 in the Stack’s Bowers Spring Showcase auction.

Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers.

Two rarely seen examples of obsolete currency each realized $7,200, including the buyer’s premium, at the Stack‘s Bowers Galleries auction of bank notes in its Spring Showcase Auction on March 27 and 28.

The first was a $1 note from 1837 issued by the Kirtland (Ohio) Safety Society Bank in graded by Paper Money Guaranty as Choice Very Fine 35. Known as an “Anti-Banking Note,” it is a relic from the early Latter Day Saints movement, before the group made its way to Utah. From 1831 to 1837, Kirtland was the headquarters of the LDS movement and the site of its first temple. The note was issued in an act of defiance after Ohio refused to issue the community a banking charter, and the community, at the urging of Joseph Smith, decided to establish its own independent bank. Therefore, the bank’s name was changed from the Kirtland Safety Society Bank to the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company. The catalog explains that this was to take advantage of a legal loophole which allowed financial institutions to operate in the absence of a state charter as a joint-stock company.

After shares were sold in the community, $15,000 worth of $1, $2, and $3 notes were initially issued, with more issued later, from $1 to $20. The bank failed in the crisis of 1837. Smith was the organization’s cashier and Sidney Rigdon was chairman and president. Both were charged with operating an illegal bank and fined $1,000 each.

The second note was the rarest and highest denomination bank note issued by the Republic of Texas, a $500 note of 1840 graded by PMG as Very Fine 20 with closed cancellations. Texas was an independent country from 1836 to 1846 and was recognized by the United States in 1837. Texas never issued coins, only currency, and it was all essentially worthless. This note is one of the Redback issues between 1839 and 1842, so named because of the ink used on the reverse. At the center of the obverse are allegories of Commerce and Plenty with a variety of trade goods, with ships in the background. Liberty is seated on the right with a liberty pole in her left hand, leaning against a shield with the Texas “Lone Star” with her right arm. An eagle stands to her right. The Lone Star of Texas is in the center of the reverse.

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