Mementos of the Fallen – WWI

 Edward Hale Perry
1LT Edward Hale Perry (1887-1918).

Edward Hale Perry was born in Boston on January 23, 1887. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in mining engineering in 1913. He was attracted to the geological aspects of mining and spent most of his time in the western part of the country. He was working in Arizona in 1917 when the United States entered WWI. He completed the job he was on and went back east to enlist in the Army.

He applied to the officer’s training school in Plattsburg, NY. He transferred to the Corps of Engineers and was made a First Lieutenant. He was posted to the 6th Engineer Regiment and was in charge of a mining, sapper and demolition platoon within Company D. He was offered the opportunity to remain stateside as an instructor but he declined and set sail for Europe on December 5, 1917 from Hoboken on the SS Huron with the rest of Company D.

Letter of Credit for £300 taken out by 1LT Edward Hale Perry from the National Commercial Bank of Albany, NY in November 1917 against Brown, Shipley & Co. in London.

Prior to departing the United States, 1LT Perry got his financial affairs in order and took out the above letter of credit for £300. This amount was the equivalent of $1,500.00 in 1917. Letters of credit were a precursor to travelers’ cheques that allowed the holder to draw funds from an in-country financial institution which was reimbursed by the issuing bank. Amounts paid out are entered on the back.

Battle of Rosières (Operation Michael). Concentration of the 17th Division at Henencourt as the V Corps reserve after evacuation. Photograph taken at Hermies, 26 March 1918. Imperial War Museum image Q8622
The British 17th Division after its withdrawal across the Somme at the start of Operation Michael. The division’s retreat was across bridges held by the American Engineer Companies.
(Imperial War Museum Image Q8622).

In January 1918, Company B and Company D of the 6th Engineers were detached for service with the British 5th Army. The American Engineer Companies were assigned to construct steel bridges over the Somme. On March 21, 1918 the German Army launched their Spring Offensive, Operation Michael, against the British and French positions.

Somme-1918 battlefield copy.jpg
Map showing the German advance during Operation Michael and the First Battle of the Somme 1918. The American Engineer Companies were thrown into the line east of Amiens between Hamel and Villers-Bretonneux after retreating from Peronne.

As the Germans advanced and the British 3rd and 5th Armies retreated, the American Engineer Companies remained at the Somme bridges to destroy them after the Allied withdrawal was complete. Having done their duty on the bridges, the American Engineers were thrown into a gap that had developed in the British lines between Hamel and Villers-Bretonneux as part of Carey’s Force, a hastily composed task force made up of whatever units could be found nearby.

The German Offensive eventually petered out but not before LT Perry would perish. His last actions are described by Captain Harris Jones, his Company Commander:

It was Saturday, March 30. We underwent a good preliminary bombardment followed by the infantry attacks supported by heavy barrages. Our trenches were pretty poor, as we had to get underground at the same time that we were keeping the Fritz out of the way, and the artillery smashed a good deal of our defenses. A shell had demolished a traverse in Perry’s section of trench, killing four men. He was working in the gap preparing the damage with his own hands, when a bullet, probably from a machine gun in an enemy aeroplane which was raking the trenches, penetrated his skull.

Transactions of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, Volume LXI (1920)
Letter from Brown, Shipley & Co. returning Edward H. Perry’s letter of credit to his brother Gardner, VP of the National Commercial Bank of Albany, NY.

Despite the eyewitness account of 1LT Perry’s death, his remains were not identified and the American Battlefield Monuments Commission lists him as missing in action. Curiously, the letter of credit was found somewhere in the French countryside and returned first to Brown, Shipley & Co. and then to his family.

Iron Bottom Bay

Chit booklet for use at the Iron Bottom Bay Club at Port Purvis on Florida Island in the Solomon Islands. Iron Bottom Bay or Iron Bottom Sound lies between Florida Island and Guadalcanal.

Iron Bottom Bay or Iron Bottom Sound lies between Florida Island, Savo Island and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Prior to the war it was known as Savo Sound. The new name was adopted by Allied sailors as the bottom of the sound became littered with the hulks of sunken Japanese and Allied warships.

Map showing the locations of shipwrecks in Iron Bottom Bay. Purvis Bay is the inlet
where USS LST-342 is shown in the upper right corner of the map.

Between August 1942 and April 1943 five separate naval engagements took place within the sound as the ground campaign on Guadalcanal dragged on. Sixteen Allied and eight Japanese ships were sunk during those battles. Seventeen Allied and nine Japanese ships went to the bottom in other action in the sound before the end of the war.

Page from the unit history of the 1008 Seabee Detachment showing the dedication of the Iron
Bottom Bay Club. The Detachment was stationed on Florida Island and built the Club.

After the Japanese withdrawal from Guadalcanal in February 1943, the Allies turned the islands around Iron Bottom Sound into a major port and logistics facility. Recreational facilities were among the improvements made. On Florida Island the 1008 Seabee Detachment constructed the Iron Bottom Bay Club as the primary officer’s club to serve the area.

Ten cent and five cent chits from the Iron Bottom Bay Club.

Most of the military clubs operated on a chit or coupon system. Club chits were sold in booklets usually by deducting the amount directly from pay.

Using chits instead of regular money allowed for greater currency control and accountability. It also kept money out of the local economy helping to keep down inflation. There was also an added benefit to the club when a member left without redeeming all their coupons.

The booklet pictured above was issued by the Iron Bottom Bay Club on Florida Island. The booklet originally held $3.00 in chits but this example was surcharged down to $1.00. It had 5 x $.10 and 10 x $.05 chits.

Wisconsin Depression Scrip

$1.00 scrip issued by the city of De Pere. The city’s assets were tied up in banks on
moratorium and it was unable to make payroll or pay other expenses.

This week I highlight the various forms of scrip issued during the Great Depression in Wisconsin. If you would like to read more about it, please see my new website:

As the Great Depression wore on into the early 1930s various schemes were developed to try to move the economy forward. High unemployment, failing banks and the stock market collapse ground the economy to a halt and money had become scarce. Commerce virtually ceased nationwide when President Roosevelt ordered all banks closed on March 6, 1933.

Various forms of scrip were circulated at the local level to try to re-start the economy. The types of scrip can be divided into several different categories.

Example of a $1.00 piece of Wisconsin Bank Scrip. This piece was punch cancelled and included in a souvenir set that was given to the printer, Gugler Lithographic Company in Milwaukee.

State Scrip. Only one statewide issue of scrip was issued and that was in Wisconsin. The State Banking Department had scrip printed and made it available to 172 Wisconsin state chartered banks. Over $3,000,000.00 in state scrip was issued and $4,710.00 remained unredeemed in September 1934.

Tax Redemption Note or “Baby Bond” issued by the city of Milwaukee.
Milwaukee issued scrip from 1933 to 1939 to meet payroll.

Municipal Scrip. Local governments were squeezed by two factors. First, cash was tied up in closed banks. Second, tax collections dropped off as it became impossible for people and businesses to pay them. There were several types of municipal scrip including tax anticipation notes, certificates of indebtedness, payment orders and relief orders. Low denomination municipal bonds also were circulated.

Clearing House Certificate from the Milwaukee Clearing House. The Clearing House made the scrip available to banks against deposits held by the Clearing House.

Clearing House Certificates. Clearing houses had been established in most communities in the late 1800s to aid in the clearing of checks among banks. During the panics of 1893 and 1907 clearing houses operated in a manner similar to the Federal Reserve by issuing circulating certificates backed by deposits held by the clearing house or the banks. Similar scrip was issued in many communities in 1933 as a result of the Bank Holiday.

This $1.00 stamp scrip was issued by the Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield to pay the prizes for the 1932 fair. The Fair Association was unable to pay the prizes because its assets were held in closed banks

Stamp Scrip. Silvio Gesell, a Swiss economist, developed the concept of a circulating medium that would lose it value as time went on. The goal was to keep it moving from hand to hand in an economic version of the kids game “hot potato”. The full value could be restored by buying a stamp and affixing it to the certificate either at fixed intervals or when used. This type of scrip was self-liquidating in that the scrip would be retired once the equivalent of its face value had been purchased in stamps.

The Commodity Exchange was established by Mayor Daniel Webster Hoan in Milwaukee. It allowed its members to trade goods and services without using cash. Scrip certificates were used instead.

Barter and Exchange Scrip. Barter exchanges were established in many cities as a means for the unemployed to trade labor and time for necessities. Members traded services for labor or goods, or goods for services or other goods. The exchanges kept schedules of the value of goods and services so there was no dispute as to the value of items.

The Peavey Paper Company in Ladysmith issued scrip to free up cash to pay for improvements to the company’s facilities.

Payroll and Business Scrip. Many businesses were caught off guard by the Bank Holiday and did not have sufficient cash on hand to make payroll or pay bills. If they had sufficient economic muscle they were able to issue scrip, often in the form of small denomination checks, that was accepted in the local community.

Scrip issued in Horicon in the form of a check issued by local businessman H.V.B Wilcox.
Image courtesy of Chet Krause.

Private Scrip. There are a few instances of individuals issuing scrip. Some of these were opportunists, some were altruistic dreamers and others were local business leaders.

The success of the various types of scrip varied from place to place. It was most successful in areas where there were existing economic drivers that only needed assistance.

The Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal

ship canal 1.jpg

A few months ago I wrote about transportation numismatics of Door County. Somehow I managed to forget to include one of the largest pieces in the collection.

The document shown above is a specimen of a $1,000.00 bond issued by the Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal and Harbor Company. The bonds were issued to finance the construction of the canal connecting these two bodies of water across the Door County peninsula in 1873. The original piece is too large to fit on a standard scanner. The lower half not shown in the scan consists of interest coupons. This is either an unissued remainder or a printer’s specimen.

I obtained the bond from Chet Krause in about 2012. Chet thought enough of it to picture it in his book on Wisconsin Obsolete Paper Money and Scrip even though it is neither. Chet knew I lived in Door County (he referred to me affectionately as that damn lawyer in Sturgeon Bay) and offered it to me when he was dispossessing himself of his collection in the years before he died. I am proud to be its current caretaker.

A not entirely to scale rendition of Lake Michigan, Green Bay and the Sturgeon Bay canal from the Chicago publication the Land Owner marking the opening of the canal. (The Newberry Digital Collection).

Construction on the canal began in 1872 across a 1.3 mile strip of land that separated Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan. It was completed in 1881. The canal shortened the trip between Green Bay and the Lake Michigan ports by 150 miles. It also eliminated crossing Death’s Door, the treacherous channel between the northern end of the Door peninsula and Washington Island.

The canal had a tremendous effect on the development of Sturgeon Bay and Door County in the late 19th Century. The ships passing through provided a vital link between the county and the rest of the world as the roads to the county were primitive and there was no rail connection yet. It resulted in Sturgeon Bay becoming a center of shipbuilding.

NOAA map of Sturgeon Bay and the canal. The yellow line is the canal and the red line is the dredged ship channel. The inset is the city of Sturgeon Bay

Great Lakes shipping continues to pass through the canal but it has a greater significance for smaller boats than the lake freighters. The canal makes Sturgeon Bay the center of a large and varied sport fishing industry allowing for salmon fishing on the big lake, smallmouth bass on Sturgeon Bay and perch and walleye on Green Bay all from a central location.


Notgeld from 1921 from Oberammergau depicting death ravaging the area in the 1630s

It is Easter weekend and the only notes that I could find related to this Christian holiday are notgeld from the German town of Oberammergau highlighting the decennial Passion Play performed there.

The Oberammergau Passion Play has its origins in an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1633. The villagers promised God that they would perform a play depicting the life, death and resurrection of Christ every 10 years if the community was spared. Over the next year deaths in the village declined dramatically. The villagers kept their promise and performed the play for the first time in 1634. It has been performed ever since in years ending in zero (except for 1940 when WWII got in the way).

The play includes dramatic renditions of Old and New Testament stories. It is performed for five months from May through October. The production lasts several hours. The performers are all residents of the village.

The central vignette on this 50 pfennig notgeld from Oberammergau depicts a scene from the 1634 production of the Passion. Two of the authors of the original Passion, Othmar Weiss and J. A. Daisenberger flank the image. The back is a depiction of Oberammergau in 1634.

A Dirty Little Secret

The United States took possession of the Philippines from Spain after the Spanish-American War. Coinage and paper money for the Philippines were made by the United States until independence in 1946.

After the Japanese invasion in 1941, the gold and silver in the Philippine treasury was secreted out of the country on board the submarine USS Trout. Guerrilla forces loyal to the United States administration harassed the Japanese occupiers. Feeding and equipping the guerrilla armies cost money.

USS Narwahl, one of the submarines that supplied
the guerrilla armies in the Philippines.

Arms, equipment, food and other provisions were brought to the Philippines by submarine during the war. These supply missions also brought with them money. Two different types of money were brought in — counterfeit Japanese military pesos and pre-war Commonwealth of the Philippines notes. The counterfeit Japanese notes will be discussed in a subsequent post.

The War Department asked the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to print additional pre-war Philippine paper money. The last series of paper money issued in the Philippines had been put into circulation in 1941. The BEP printed a short run of these notes for the War Department in denominations of 1, 5 and 10 pesos.

The War Department believed that the Japanese would be suspicious of anyone who was found in possession of brand new currency notes so the first group of notes ordered by the War Department was artificially aged by the Bureau of Standards. The notes were tumbled in metal drums containing dirt, coffee grounds and other contaminants to soil the notes.

The printing and artificial aging of the notes was a clandestine operation. The existence of this special series of notes was uncovered by author and researcher Neil Shafer in the 1960s when he stumbled upon correspondence and records relating to their printing in the National Archives. Included in this documentation were the serial numbers of the notes that were artificially aged. The serial numbers for each denomination are as follows:

1 pesoE6008001E – E6056000E
E6064001E – E6072000E
E6080001E – E6324000E
5 pesosE1208001E – E1328000E
10 pesosE810001E – E870000E

As you can see, the number of notes printed was small — 300,000 1 peso notes, 20,000 5 peso notes and 60,000 10 peso notes. All denominations are scarce with the 10 peso being rare. The artificial aging can fool dealers and collectors alike who may pass on the notes because of their low grade.

UNESCO Coupons

In 1948 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established a coupon system to aid in the acquisition of educational, scientific and cultural books and other media especially in less developed countries.

Coupons were originally issued in values of US$.25, 1.00, 3.00 and 10.00. The $.25 coupon was dropped many years ago and a $30.00 and $1,000.00 coupon have been added. Coupons can be purchased from UNESCO representatives in any country using local currency at the exchange rate for US dollars. A surcharge not exceeding 5% may be added by the local UNESCO office.

The coupons can be used to purchase qualifying materials from suppliers who are willing to accept the coupons. Qualifying materials originally only included books but this has been expanded to include maps, sheet music, computer hardware and software, textbooks and school supplies, as well as scientific supplies such as laboratory equipment, testing devices and tools. The UNESCO offices maintain lists of suppliers who are known to accept the coupons.

UNESCO coupons are bearer instruments but can only be redeemed by merchants who who deal in eligible products. They are valid for four years from the date of issue. Coupons that have passed their expiration date can be exchanged for new coupons at UNESCO offices.