Monday, October 22, 2012

Canada Unveils a Seven-Story High Bank Note Image on Office Building

Canada’s central bank spent the equivalent of nearly 2,000 new $20 bills — or close to $40,000 in total — to announce the new polymer banknote and display a seven-story image of it on the Bank of Canada’s headquarters in downtown Ottawa.

A seven-story image of the front and back of the $20 bill was installed in May on the bank’s east tower to show off the new banknote and announce it will officially go into circulation in November.

Broken down, the central bank paid $35,832 (or about 1,792 worth of the banknotes) to a digital imaging company on the design, production and installation of the two images on the glass office tower, according to the documents.

The images were printed on a product called “Clearview,” which displays the note from the outside, but is transparent to people inside the building.

An additional $2,640 (or the equivalent of 132 new or old $20 banknotes) was also paid to a window washing company to clean the building’s glass tower and help prepare the seven-story display between the second and eighth floors. The bank paid an additional $452 to a party rental company for a tent that was used for the outdoor news conference with Carney and Flaherty.

The images of the new $20 bill are affixed on the building facing the high-traffic corner of Wellington and Bank streets and will remain there for a total of six to 12 months.

The bank felt it was important to promote the new bill and help educate Canadian consumers and retailers so they know it will gradually be released into circulation, beginning Nov. 7.

Friday, October 19, 2012

When Banks Were Able to Print Their Own Money, Literally

By Jessica Lautin and B.J. Lillis
Oct 19, 2012 1:36 PM ET

In 2012, it isn’t unusual to go days without using actual money: Lunch goes on the debit card, a clothing purchase goes on the credit card and in some cities even parking meters take plastic. As the Internet and instruments of credit continue to transform our relationship with money, it is worth reflecting on the forms that money has taken in the past.

Before the institution of federally backed paper currency in 1862, the government didn’t see issuing paper money as its responsibility. Although it coined gold and silver, there was never enough in circulation to provide an effective medium of exchange. Because the Constitution prohibited states from printing money, banks became the primary suppliers of paper money in the U.S.

From 1791 to 1811, and then again from 1817 to 1836, the First Bank of the United States and the Second Bank of the United States brought a degree of order to this system, both regulating the issue of bank notes and issuing their own trusted notes. But when Andrew Jackson failed to renew the second bank’s charter in 1836, private bank notes proliferated unchecked. By the 1850s, U.S. banks had issued more than 10,000 kinds of bank notes, varying in size, denomination, design and value. (Many of them are now on display at the Museum of the City of New York.)
Bank Notes

There were significant problems with this system, in which money often wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. In theory, a bank note derived its value from its ability to be redeemed for gold or silver at the issuing bank, but what banks could live up to that promise? Those that were poorly capitalized went to great lengths to ensure that their notes weren’t redeemed. For example, the Union Bank of Tennessee issued notes only redeemable in New Orleans. In the small town of Versailles, Kentucky, an agent who came to redeem notes at the local bank was hanged in effigy by local citizens. Banks also suspended redemptions during financial panics, and when a bank failed, its notes became worthless.

When banks couldn’t provide an adequate supply of money, other institutions stepped in. In particular, there was demand for small-denomination bank notes and coins. (In 1840, per- capita annual income in the U.S. was about $65, so a $1 bank note was a lot of money.) Hotels, restaurants and bars that didn’t have enough coins and bank notes to make change issued their own money in small denominations. A note issued by one hotel promised “to pay on demand twenty five cents in current funds when presented in sums of $1 & upwards.” A note worth 25 cents in the hotel lobby would have changed hands at a steep discount just a few blocks away. Meanwhile, small towns issued bank notes of a few cents to support local commerce. In Virginia, people were reduced to cutting apart large bank notes and circulating them in pieces.

In this unpredictable environment, spending a dollar required some serious thinking. A wallet might have three, five or a dozen different bank notes -- a bull’s head staring back at you from a Bull’s Head Bank note, or a Marine Bank bill illustrated with ships -- not to mention foreign coins from around the world and personal checks, which also circulated as money. Most bank notes traded at a discount based on the reputation of the bank and how far the note was from where it originated.

A shop owner had even more variables to consider. When a consumer opened his wallet to pay, the proprietor turned to his local edition of “Bicknell’s Counterfeit Detector and Bank Note Reporter,” or to “Van Court’s Counterfeit Detector and Bank Note List.”

Counterfeit Guides

These guides not only identified counterfeits, they also reported the prices of bank notes on the local market. (As professional note brokers traded and speculated, prices rose and fell.) Thumbing through a counterfeit detector, the store owner would try to assess the value of the bank notes at hand. He took a hard look at the person handing over the bills, judging value based on the person’s race, class, dress, comportment and reputation.

Counterfeiters exploited this feature of the system, and passed themselves in addition to their notes, dressing and acting as proper ladies and gentlemen. And with so many bank notes from so many banks, counterfeiters flourished. Some simply invented whole banks. Others erased the name of a failed bank and replaced it with that of a reputable one.

Of course, as 19th-century observers frequently noted, a poorly capitalized bank that printed notes it couldn’t redeem was, in the end, little different from a counterfeiting operation.

About the authors

(Jessica Lautin is the Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral curatorial fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. B.J. Lillis is a fellow at the museum. The exhibit “Capital of Capital: New York’s Banks and the Creation of a Global Economy” will be running at the museum through Oct. 21. The opinions expressed are those of the authors.)

Banknote scans courtesy Museum of the City of New York

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

$2 Canadian Bank Note Valued at $15,000+

By CoinWeek on September 25, 2012 9:10 AM

Eleven years after the Bank of Canada discontinued the two dollar bill with the Royal Canadian Mint’s Toonie, some of the older notes can be worth a huge premium over face value. The unique feature of this note comes down to the signature and prefix combination on the note.

The Thiessen-Crow signature combination was intended to begin with $2 note AUK 164000 to replace the Crow-Bouey signature. However, notes with the Thiessen-Crow signature have been discovered in series AUG to AUN. Notes with the prefix AUH are extremely rare with Thiessen-Crow signatures.

To date, there are only five known $2 notes with the AUH Thiessen-Crow combination, and this is the finest known example graded by PMG as Almost Uncirculated.

The 1986 AUH $2 series note will be hitting the auction block on September 28, 2012 through Geoffrey Bell Auctions in Toronto Ontario at the Toronto Coin Expo.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rare banknotes' owner hopes to coin £11,000

This is Cornwall
Thursday, October 04, 2012

RARE black and white Cornish banknotes produced 200 years ago when Truro, Falmouth, Helston and Redruth printed their own money are set to fetch up to £11,000 at auction.

Of the 28 banknotes, four could sell for up to £600 each when they go under the hammer at Spinkin Bloomsbury, London, on Tuesday.

The banknotes have been put up for sale by Jersey-based property tycoon David Kirch, 75, who is said to be Britain's joint 75lst richest man, alongside Robbie Williams, David Bowie and George Michael, each said to be worth an estimated £100 million.

Mr Kirch's collection of English provincial banknotes, worth about £1 million, will be sold in four parts.

It is described by Barnaby Faull, head of the banknotes department at Spink, as "the best collection of English provincial banknotes by miles".

Mr Faull added: "All towns and cities used to issue their own banknotes. Merchants would set up their own banks. But their notes could only be used locally."

Among the Cornish notes in the Spink auction are:

a proof of a Miners Bank;

five guineas note (£5.25) undated but produced between 1796 and 1803 (as a proof, it was never issued) expected to sell for between £400 and £600. The Truro-based Miners Bank was founded in 1759 and in business for 131 years until 1890, when it became part of Bolitho, Williams, Foster, Coode, Grylls and Co Ltd, the Consolidated Bank of Cornwall, which was taken over in 1905 by Barclay and Co Ltd, which became Barclays Bank Ltd in 1917;

a Falmouth Bank £1 note issued on April 10, 1811, described by Spink as "rare" is set to fetch between £500 and £600. This bank was founded in 1809, but what happened to it is a mystery;

two Helston notes are expected to sell for between £500 and £600 each. They were both produced by the Helston-based Union Bank of Cornwall, which was founded in 1788 and also later became part of Barclays Bank;

an unissued West Cornwall Bank £5 note, featuring on engraving of a tin mine, could sell for between £300 and £400. The short-lived Redruth-based West Cornwall Bank was founded in 1812 and ceased trading in 1820.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rare century-old $5 Alaska bill to be auctioned

The $5 bill displayed for decades on Charles Fairbanks IV's wall was long a treasured family heirloom from Alaska. Now, to the surprise of the grandson of a turn-of-a-century vice president, it's also become a likely treasure trove.

Associated Press

The $5 bill displayed for decades on Charles Fairbanks IV's wall was long a treasured family heirloom from Alaska. Now, to the surprise of the grandson of a turn-of-a-century vice president, it's also become a likely treasure trove.

The rare find is expected to fetch as much as $300,000 at auction this month when a Texas auctioneer plans to put it up for bids in Dallas and online as part of the American Numismatic Association National Money Show.

The bill was presented in 1905 to Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks - Theodore Roosevelt's No. 2 - and was from the First National Bank of Fairbanks, Alaska. The family has had it in their possession ever since and recently decided to auction it off through Dallas-based Heritage Auctions.

"It's a wonderful, wonderful find," said Dustin Johnston, director of Heritage's currency auctions.

Auction officials say the Fairbanks bill that features an image of President Benjamin Harrison is a highlight that's expected to sell for $200,000 to $300,000. The minimum starting bid is $120,000.

Fairbanks always knew the bill was special, at least to his family, given that it was presented to the former vice president as a memento from the frontier city named after him.

Fairbanks learned last year that the uncirculated note's estimated value had skyrocketed far beyond the estimate of $50,000 to $60,000 set in the mid-1990s, which prompted him to start locking it up whenever he traveled.

With the new estimate, the 66-year-old great-grandson no longer felt comfortable displaying it on a wall in his Santa Barbara, Calif., home.

It was no longer just a framed family keepsake, so off it went to a safety deposit box.

"Why stress out and worry about something?" Fairbanks said. "It'd be like having a Monet in the house."

But keeping it hidden didn't do anyone any good. So Fairbanks decided to consign it to Heritage. He said his family has plenty of other historical memorabilia, or he wouldn't have done it.

Charles W. Fairbanks was a U.S. senator from Indiana in the late 1890s when he was credited with playing a key role to resolve a border dispute with Canada triggered by the Klondike Gold Rush. As a result of his efforts, most of the disputed territory went to the United States.

But the real reason the city of Fairbanks was named after him was because he played a key role in the appointment of a federal judge, James Wickersham, a man Fairbanks met during the border dispute, according to University of Alaska Fairbanks historian Terrence Cole. To return the favor, Wickersham urged city founders to call the settlement Fairbanks.

"He said, `I owe everything that I am to him,'" Cole said.

Auction officials also note the bill's rarity. Only three banks in Alaska - out of more than 12,000 banks nationwide - issued the bills.

The Fairbanks bill was just one of four notes of its kind in the $5 denomination that were issued in 1905 by the now-defunct Alaska bank, according to Johnston. One of those bills sold 15 years ago for close to $100,000 and the market has "really picked up for the rarest pieces," he said.

A third bill is in storage at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, collections manager of ethnology and history Angela Linn said Wednesday. The bill is in pristine condition and looks as if it just came off the printing press, she said, adding that its distinctive quirk is a curve in part of the edge.

The bill being auctioned is unfolded and there is no wear, either, Johnston said. Its color is a little muted because the family displayed it for so long. There also have been some minor restorations to the back corners, but Johnston doesn't expect that to affect the selling price, given the bill's rarity, pedigree and history.

It's probably one of the better national bank notes that will come to auction over this decade, he said.

"It's easily in the top five of what I've handled," Johnston said.