Paper Money

Society of Paper Money Collectors membership bargain

The main vignette of the 10,000-mark German "vampire" note of 1922 note is drawn from Albrecht Dürer’s circa-1500 "Portrait of a Young Man." Dürer’s self-portrait is superimposed at left. The note is referred to as a “vampire” note because, when rotated 90 degrees clockwise, it appears as though a vampire is biting the man’s neck, a symbolic reference to World War I reparations sucking the blood out of the nation’s economy.

Background note image courtesy of Gerald Tebben.

Coin Lore column from the July 18, 2016, Weekly issue of Coin World:

I’m a coin guy. Paper money always struck me as flat. But that’s changing. After seeing researcher Peter Huntoon give a presentation on national bank notes a couple years ago, I joined the Society of Paper Money Collectors.

The first thing I do when the SPMC’s Paper Money journal arrives is turn to the “Uncoupled” feature by Joe Boling, the American Numismatic Association chief exhibit judge, and Fred Schwan, the force behind MPC Fest.

In the May-June issue, Boling writes about counterfeit chits from a Japanese POW camp on Taiwan, finding obscurity within obscurity. Schwan writes about military payment certificate coupons — coupons that had to be tendered along with MPCs as payment at base exchanges by Korean and Thai solders during the Vietnam War. I now know that blue “han” seals on Taiwan POW scrip are suspect and that the U.S. military used an adjunct to MPCs to thwart black market operations.

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The magazine properly has numerous articles about mainstream currency collecting, but it also is sprinkled with sparkling articles from the hobby’s side roads.  

In the May-June issue, Rick Melamed wrote about the use of postage notes as stamps on letters. Postage notes, the first issue of fractional currency, pictured actual postage stamps on the face.

In time for Halloween last year, Pam and David Stitely wrote about Germany’s 1922 “vampire notes.” The main vignette of the 10,000-mark note is drawn from Albrecht Dürer’s circa-1500 Portrait of a Young Man.

The Stitelys wrote, “When the engraver made the plates, he added extra lines to the neck that resulted in the nickname ‘The Vampire Note.’ When turning the note on its side, you can see a vampire sucking on the neck of the young man. This was to show Germany being sucked dry by the massive reparations” that the Allies imposed after World War I.

Huntoon, who frequently writes for the magazine on mainstream topics, knows a story when he sees one, and every now and then treats readers to a tale. 

In last year’s July-August issue, he wrote about “King City, Missouri, Blood Money.”

High-grade large-size notes of the First National Bank of King City, he wrote, were likely stolen from hoarder Mary Hammer when she was murdered in 1949.

The journal comes with membership in the Society of Paper Money Collectors. In the United States, dues are $20 a year for members who want an online subscription and $39 for those (me) who want a print journal.

Either way, it’s a bargain.

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