Were it not for the current quarantine I would be spending this weekend in Port Clinton, OH. Port Clinton is a western Lake Erie resort town that has played host since 2000 to the MPCFest. MPCFest is an annual gathering of military numismatists. (MPC is an acronym for Military Payment Certificates which were scrip used in certain overseas US military establishments between 1946 and 1975).
I have given presentations on various topics over the years. The video below is made from the Powerpoint slideshow that I would have presented this year. It is a little more than five minutes long. The slides advance every 19 seconds including the title slide so you do have to wait a little before it starts. You can pause it if you need more time to read the text. Text on some of the slides was cut off during the editing process.
The title – Ein kurzer Saufer – is a loose translation of the English phrase “short snorter”. (I am pretty certain that the literal translation is “a short drunk”.) Short snorters, banknotes signed by servicemembers as souvenirs, were almost exclusively an American tradition. The note discussed in the presentation is one of the few I have seen that has signatures of members of the Axis.
Some of the signatures are light and do not show well in the images but this was the best I could get. There is no sound. I thought of narrating or adding music but felt that silence was best given the subject.
April 11, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the passing of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While his health had been declining, his death at the age of 63 from a stroke was a shock to most Americans. His sudden death at the beginning of his fourth term and in the middle of World War II led to an outpouring of memorial tributes. The first numismatic tribute to President Roosevelt was the $200.00 United States Savings Bond.
The $200.00 bond was a new denomination for a savings bond. The Treasury Department announced the new value in July 1945. It was to be introduced with the Victory Loan Drive on October 29, 1945.
Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. resigned his office on July 22, 1945 just after production of the plates for the new bond had begun. Despite the fact that there was sufficient time to replace his signature with that of the incoming Secretary Frederick Vinson before the bonds were to be issued, Morgenthau’s signature appears on the initial print run.
Another peculiarity of the Morgenthau signature $200.00 bond is the “WAR SAVINGS BOND” legend that appears on the face. The font and size of this legend are noticeably different than any other type small size war bond. The legend is in a very small, block face font on the $200.00 bond while the other bonds have a large font with serifs..
It is probable that the “War Savings Bond” legend on the Morgenthau signature bonds was not as originally intended. Secretary Vinson announced in August 1945 that as of that date bonds were no longer going to be officially called “United States War Savings Bonds” and would be called “United States Savings Bonds.” It is likely that both the Morgenthau signature and the “War Savings Bond” legend were used on the initial run of the $200.00 bond because of President Roosevelt’s connection to Secretary Morgenthau and the war.
The letter “R” was chosen as the serial number prefix for the $200.00 bond as it was the initial of the late president’s last name. The convention had been to use the Roman numeral of the denomination for the prefix letter (X for the $10.00, L for the $50.00) except for the $25.00 which used the letter Q. Q and R were used as the prefixes for the $25.00 and $200.00 bonds because those Roman numerals would be represented by more than one character but treasury only allowed for a one-character prefix. The R-prefix was maintained for the $200.00 into Series EE even though President Roosevelt was moved to the $50.00 bond.
According to the records of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing 1,250,000 $200.00 War Savings Bonds with Secretary Morgenthau’s signature were printed. This is the shortest print run of the small-size War Bonds. Only a small handful have been observed in the collector’s market.
I was politely taken to task by a reader last week for writing more about paper money than coins. “Isn’t this a numismatic blog?” he queried. After reminding him that paper money is part of the field of numismatics, I then told him: “Don’t worry.” Which brings us to this week’s topic: tokens featuring the emblem of the Don’t Worry Club.
The Don’t Worry Club was the brainchild of Theodore F. Seward of Florida, New York. I(t was originally a religious movement. According to Seward the purpose was to overcome the habit of worrying and to study religious truth from the scientific and practical side. “This truth, when really understood, relieves the mind from anxiety and worry, and thus the movement perpetuates itself.” The precepts of the Club, as envisioned by Seward, are set forth in this excerpt from the December 19, 1897, New York Times:
Contemporary newspaper accounts indicate the Don’t Worry movement spread quickly around the country. It lost some of it religious overtones as it did. It found its biggest champion in E. W. Howe, the publisher of the Atchison Globe. He developed his own set of principles which he set forth in that newspaper in 1901. There are three basic tenets:
There are seventeen corollaries only one of which will be repeated here:
As quickly as the movement spread, so did its detractors. As early as May 1898, newspaper articles appeared ridiculing the Don’t Worry philosophy and referring to it as a fad. Merchants poked fun of it in their advertising copy.
The Don’t Worry Clubs reached their peak in the 1910s although pockets remained, particularly in the Midwest into the 1930s. At least one club was active in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin area as late as 1949.
What is the numismatic connection? Advertising tokens bearing the purported “Emblem of the Don’t Worry Club” began appearing as early as 1901. They were issued into the 1930s. One side of the token bore the merchant’s advertising. Although there are some variations, the other side featured the legend: “Emblem of the Don’t Worry Club” surrounding a large swastika. Within the arms of the swastika is a wish bone, a four leaf clover and a horseshoe. In the fourth arm are three symbols that have defied explanation.
These symbols all have one thing in common — good luck or good fortune. The token is intended as a good luck charm. Encased cents, which were also popular at this time, also were good luck pieces.
There are no contemporary explanations as to why these symbols are said to be emblematic of the Don’t Worry Club. The few sources make no reference to any symbolism for the group. E. W. Howe’s article specifically indicates that the movement had no symbols, handshakes, signs or initiation. The few modern writers who have discussed the tokens seem to have taken the statement that the tokens bore the emblems of the movement at face value.
I do not think it is that simple. The use of these symbols to represent the Don’t Worry Club appears satirical. Many of the articles that ridicule the movement assert that in order to follow its philosophy a person would have to have nothing but good fortune. Life (even at the turn of the 19th Century) has its share of stressful circumstances. Living it worry-free requires either good luck, ignorance or wanton disregard for ones own lot.
The Don’t Worry Club tokens are a popular collecting field. Hundreds of merchants used them for advertising.
Another example of satirical use of “worry” is found on this 1913 token from Aluminum Sign Company. It tells the holder that they should worry! Look closely at the text on the reverse side that informs the holder that the token and a dime will be good for 10c in trade.
March is Women’s History Month in the United States. As the month draws to a close in 2020, I thought I would highlight women featured on American paper money. Doing so, however, would result in a very short discussion. In the more than 150 years the United States government has issued paper money, a total of two women have graced its notes: Martha Washington and Pocahontas. And only one of those two — Martha Washington — was featured on the face of the note.
Women do not fair much better on American coinage with only three women appearing on regular issue coinage: Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea on dollar coins and Helen Keller on the Alabama entry of the state quarter series.
Since there are no American women on paper money to talk about (I do not have notes with either of these women in my collection), let’s look at some of the women honored on the bank notes of other countries.
Viola Desmond. The Bank of Canada placed Viola Desmond on the $10.00 note in 2018. Desmond was a black civil rights leader and business owner in Nova Scotia. She developed a line of beauty products for black women and opened a beauty school in Nova Scotia specifically for black women. Racial discrimination prevented black women from attending the beauty schools in Nova Scotia. Desmond had to travel to Montreal and the United States for training.
While on a business trip to Sydney, Nova Scotia, in 1946, Desmond was arrested for refusing to leave the whites-only section of a movie theater. She had purchased a balcony seat but moved to the floor because her eyesight was not good. She was arrested, spent twelve hours in jail and paid a fine of $20.00. She fought the case in court. She was prosecuted for tax evasion for only paying the tax on the cheaper balcony seat she purchased and not the tax on the more expensive seat she moved to. The difference in the tax was $.01 She was convicted. Her case received widespread attention in Canada as it was one of the first challenges to that countries Jim Crow attitudes. She died in New York in 1965. She was posthumously pardoned in 2010.
Kate Sheppard. Kate Sheppard appears on the $10.00 note issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. She was the foremost promoter of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. After the death of her father in 1862, Sheppard’s mother moved the family to New Zealand from Scotland. She was active in several religious organizations including the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Through the WCTU she presented petitions regarding alcohol matters to Parliament all of which were rejected. She felt that the all-male Parliament would continue to ignore the WCTU as long as women could not vote. In 1892, she presented a petition with 20,000 signatures seeking universal suffrage. It was rejected. A year later when she presented a petition with 30,000 signatures, the New Zealand Parliament approved the bill becoming the first country to have universal suffrage in all elections.
The Mirabal Sisters. Patria, Minerva, María Teresa and Dedé Mirabal were four sisters who actively opposed the regime of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic in the 1950s. On November 25, 1960, Patria, Minerva and María Teresa were assassinated by Trujillo henchmen along with their driver. Their killing sent a shock wave throughout the country and contributed to Trujillo’s assassination six months later. In 1997, the sisters were recognized as national martyrs. In 1999, the United Nations designated the anniversary of their assassination as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Marie Curie. Marie Curie, the physicist and chemist, has the distinction of being the only woman to be honored by being depicted on bank notes from mote than one country. She appeared on notes from Poland, the country of her birth, and France, her adopted country. She is well-known for her pioneering work on radioactivity. Her most noted accomplishment was being awarded the Nobel Prize in both chemistry and physics, the only person to have received the award in more than one discipline.
Greta Garbo. Five of the six current notes issued by the Riksbank in Sweden feature Swedes from the arts and literature. (The only outlier is former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld on the 1,000 kronor note). The actress Greta Garbo appears on the 100 kronor note.
A country’s paper money is a canvas which can showcase its history, culture, natural resources and personalities. Unfortunately, the innovation in design and subject matter found elsewhere is lacking in the United States.
With the current worldwide medical emergency ongoing, I looked for medical related depictions on paper money. Sadly, I could find none. While Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, was on a Clydesdale Bank of Scotland note and numerous politicians who were also physicians appear on notes, I could find no depictions related to the medical field on paper money.
The closest representation is on the current $20.00 note from Australia which depicts Rev. John Flynn, the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, on the back of the note. Flynn was a Presbyterian clergyman who missioned to the scattered communities of the outback. He published The Bushman’s Companion in 1910 as a guide to help those in remote communities with basic needs.
Flynn dedicated his life to serving the scattered populations in Australia and sought ways to use new technology to this advantage. Flynn founded a number of bush hospitals and frequently made public appeals for their support. A letter from a WWI pilot, Lt. John Clifford Peel (who died in service in 1918), inspired Flynn to raise money to create an airborne medical service for the outback.
By 1928, Flynn had raised enough money to commence regular service. Using a De Havilland DH.50 provided by the Queensland and New Territories Air Service, the first flight took off in May of that year. The organization was originally named the AIM Aerial Medical Service. By 1932 a nationwide network of flying doctors was organized and the name was changed to the Australian Aerial Medical Service. In 1942, the name was changed to the Flying Doctor Service. In 1955, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the royal monicker on the service.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has over 60 aircraft in use today and more than 1,000 employees providing medical services throughout Australia.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the face of the note. It depicts Mary Reibey, a pioneering Australian businesswoman. Born Mary Haydock in England, she was orphaned at a young age. She was sentenced to transportation to Australia for stealing a horse at the age of 15. She married Thomas Reibey when she was 17 in 1794. Thomas started a cargo service on the Hawkesbury River which prospered. After he died in 1811, Mary expanded the enterprise to include eight commercial vessels and sizable commercial holdings in and around Sydney. She died in 1855.
A grateful nation cannot do better than provide liberally for Admiral Dewey’s comfort in a home fitted to his tastes worthy in some measure of his services and indicative in a small degree of the gratitude which is not of a day but of all time. A popular subscription will afford all the privilege to join in such a testimonial in which patriotism will have a monument. . . . On his return from the scene of his victories and his statesmanship the official duties of Admiral Dewey will be performed in Washington. He should have a home there. . . . It is for a home for Admiral Dewey in Washington that subscriptions are invited. . . . Subscriptions may be sent at once to the Treasurer of this fund at the Treasury Department, Washington, DC. Temporary receipts will be promptly returned and as soon as it can be prepared a duplicate of the same date and number bearing a fine portrait of Admiral Dewey will be forwarded to every subscriber
Excerpts from the announcement of the formation of the Dewey Home Fund Committee
It undoubtedly seemed like a good idea at the time. A group of prominent American officials formed a committee to accept donations to purchase a home for Admiral Dewey upon his return from the Philippines in 1899. The Committee consisted of Assistant Treasury Secretary Frank A. Vanderlip, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Charles H. Allen, Brigadier General Henry C. Corbin, Assistant Postmaster General Perry S. Heath and Treasurer Robert H. Ellis.
The appeal received wide publicity throughout the country and regular updates were published. Over $60,000.00 was raised from approximately 44,.000 contributors. Most contributions were a dollar or less. Major newspapers, civic groups and other organizations made sizable donations. The names of all the contributors were hand inscribed in a three volume set of books that were presented to the Admiral.
The Committee chose a house at 1747 Rhode Island Avenue. It cost $50,000.00 and was purchased just before Dewey returned in September 1899. In early November 1899, Dewey married his second wife, Mildred McLean Hazen, widow of General William Babcock Hazen. His first wife had died shortly after the birth of their son in 1872.
Their honeymoon was short-lived. In mid-November 1899, it was learned that title to the home was transferred to Mrs. Dewey. As word spread — aided by partisan newspapers who were trying to squelch talk of Dewey running for president — many contributors became upset.
Hundreds of letters were sent to Robert Ellis’ office in the Treasury Department from contributors demanding their money be returned. On November 24, 1899, John R. McLean, Mrs. Dewey’s brother, announced that the Dewey’s would return contributions to anyone who requested it. How much was actually returned was not reported.
What was not widely covered was the fact that on the same day that Admiral Dewey transferred the house to his wife, she conveyed it to his son, George Dewey, Jr., retaining the right for her and the Admiral to occupy the residence.
It is March and in the northern hemisphere we have the phrase that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It has hardly been lion-like weather here in northeast Wisconsin so far this month as we have been in mid-30s F so far and may hit 60 on Sunday.
But I want to talk about lions, not the weather. Although currently only native to Africa and parts of India, depictions of lions appear on banknotes from many different countries.
This note from the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the early 1960s depicts a lion overlooking the Ruzizi river outflow from Lake Kivu on the border with Rwanda.
The Central Bank of Kenya chose a pride of lions for the back of its first issue twenty shilling note.
The arms of the Bailiwick of Guernsey which appear on the back of this one pound note from 1963 contain the three lions associated with the English monarch.
The State Emblem of India as shown on this Gulf rupee note depicts the Lion Capital of Ashoka. The original is in the museum at Sarnath and dates to 250 BCE.
The Lion of Judah was associated with the Emperors of Ethiopia. It is the central figure on the back of this E$100.00 note from the 1960s.
This final example is the newly released HK$50.00 note from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. It depicts one of the two lion statues that sit outside the bank’s offices in Hong Kong. The HSBC offices in Shanghai and London have similar statues. The Hong Kong lions were installed in 1935. The Japanese confiscated them in WWII and brought them to Japan to be melted down. The war ended before this could happen and the statues were returned to Hong Kong. They still bear scars from the fighting in the city in 1941. One of them was recently set afire during protests in Hong Kong.
This type of topical collecting is an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy collecting banknotes. The variety of subjects depicted on notes is large and most can be acquired with little financial outlay.
From Wikipedia: From Latin bisextilisannus (“bissextile year”), from bisextus + –ilis, from bis- (“two; twice; doubled”) + sextus (“sixth”) + dies (“day”), from the Julian calendar’s original reckoning of its quadrennial intercalary day as a 48-hour February 24, subsequently distinguished as the two separate days of the sixth day before the March calends (sexto Kalendas Martii) and the “doubled sixth day”. February 24 is now normally understood as five days before the first of March, but was called the sixth by the Romans owing to their inclusive counting of dates.
There are not many numismatic items associated with leap year. Shown are two of the three that I have encountered. The first is a one Scottish pound note from the British Linen Bank dated February 29, 1968. The other is a $25.00 US War Savings Bond with an issuing agent’s date stamp of February 29, 1944.
The only other numismatic item I know of with this date are the unissued Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas notes printed during the Japanese occupation which have an authorization date of February 29, 1944.
Benjamin O. Davis was the first African-American to hold the rank of general officer in the United States Army.
He was born and raised in Washington, D.C where he attended high school and was enrolled at Howard University.
He entered military service in July 1898 as a temporary first lieutenant in the 8th United States Volunteer Infantry, an African-American unit, for the Spanish-American War. He served stateside during the war and was mustered out on March 6, 1899. In June 1899, he enlisted as a private in the 9th Cavalry Regiment. He served as the clerk for I Troop and later as squadron sergeant major.
He was encouraged to apply for a commission by Lieutenant Charles Young, the only serving African-American officer. Young encouraged Davis’s ambition to become an officer. He sat for and passed the exams in early 1901. On February 2, 1901, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of Cavalry in the Regular Army.
In the spring of 1901, he went overseas with I Troop to the Philippines. In August 1901, he was assigned to Troop F, 10th Cavalry, which was also in the Philippines. Troop F returned to the US in August 1902 and was posted to Fort Washakie, Wyoming.
In September 1905, he went to Wilberforce University as a Professor of Military Science and Tactics. He remained there until 1909 when he was appointed military attache in Monrovia, Liberia. He returned to the United States in 1911 and was again assigned to Troop I of the 9th Cavalry.
In February 1915, he returned to Wilberforce University. From 1917 to 1920, he was back with the 9th Cavalry in the Philippines. He was then assigned to Tuskegee Institute as the professor of military science and tactics from 1920 to 1924. Between 1925 and 1937, he rotated through instructor positions at Wilberforce, Tuskegee and with the Ohio National Guard.
He was assigned to the 369th Regiment of the New York National Guard in 1938 and became its commander shortly thereafter. He was promoted to brigadier general on October 25, 1940.
He was made commanding general of 4th Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division in January 1941. He then served as an advisor on Negro Troop Policies in the Office of Inspector General. From 1941 to 1944, he made inspection tours of African-American units in the US and Europe.
In November 1944, he was assigned as special assistant to the commanding general, Communications Zone, European Theater of Operations. He then served with the Inspector General’s Office in the European Theater of Operation.
He returned to Washington, D.C. in 1947 as assistant to the inspector general and was then assigned as a special assistant to the Secretary of the Army. On July 20, 1948, he retired in a public ceremony six days prior to President Truman ordering full integration of the armed forces.
He died on November 26, 1970 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
It is Black History Month in the United States so over the next couple weeks I will highlight numismatic items with connections to the history of African-Americans. This first installment concerns the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company.
On March 3, 1865, Congress created the Freedman’s Bureau to provide financial and other assistance to newly freed slaves and other African-Americans. The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (otherwise known as the Freedman’s Savings Bank) was chartered by Congress at the same time as a depository institution for African-Americans. The bank was intended to serve two purposes: (1) be a safe place for African-Americans to park their money, and (2) provide employment and training opportunities for African-Americans in the world of finance.
The Freedman’s Bureau promoted the Savings Bank heavily and within months of opening the Savings Bank had thousands of customers and millions of dollars on deposit. A total of thirty-five branches in seventeen states were opened. This initial success was short-lived, however.
The Panic of 1873 reduced yields on government bonds, the primary investment vehicle used for the Savings Bank’s assets. Because the bank was chartered directly by Congress, there was no oversight by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Inexperience, mismanagement, speculative investments and outright fraud by some of the Savings Bank’s directors further damaged the Savings Bank’s already precarious position.
Congress finally took action in late 1873 and brought in the OCC to examine the Savings Bank’s affairs. It was too little, too late. The board of directors gave control of the Savings Bank to Frederick Douglass in March 1874 but not even a person of his stature could turn it around. The Savings Bank and all its branches closed on June 29, 1874.
The liquidation of the bank did not proceed very quickly. Liquidating distributions to the depositors began in 1875 but the final dividends were not paid out until 1883. Depositors received no more than $.62 per $1.00. Many received nothing at all because they could not be found or could not adequately assert their claims.
The Freedman’s Savings Bank may not have succeeded as a financial institution, but its records are a treasure trove of genealogical information from a period when documentation of African-Americans is spotty at best.
The Savings Bank records for Harry and Albert Fauntleroy of Richmond, VA shown above identify the genealogical information found in the records. The information includes the place of birth, place raised, current residence, occupation and family information. Harry’s entry only has Albert listed as a brother but Albert’s entry shows a sister named Mary and four brothers who had been sold prior to 1861.
The records of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company are held by the National Archives in Washington, DC. They can be found in Records Group 101 among the records of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. A limited number of the Savings Bank’s records are available on ancestry,com.