Tag Archives: Mexico

Making a Bank Note: A Study of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua Bromide Proofs

20 Dec

by Connor Falk

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The history of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua (the Bank of the State of Chihuahua) is brief and steeped in the turbulent times of the Mexican Revolution. It was founded on December 12, 1913, as decreed by General Francisco “Pancho” Villa, military governor of the state of Chihuahua and commander of the División del Norte, an armed revolutionary faction. The bank’s stated purpose, in addition to issuing currency, was to “facilitate loans on properties that fully guarantee capital, especially poor farmers who need pecuniary elements to tillage their lands.” The bank’s capital was 10 million pesos, to be distributed in bank notes backed by gold.

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Work began quickly to locate a designer and printer for the bank’s notes, and after several unsuccessful forays, El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua contracted with the American Bank Note Company (ABNCo). Design work began in September 1914 with bank representatives choosing the vignettes to be used.

The accompanying lot, #1397, represents an interesting look at the bank note design process. The lot is a unique set of fourteen photographic proofs (also known as bromide proofs) made in 1914 by the ABNCo when designing notes for El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua. These prototypes consist of both obverses and reverses of all seven denominations issued by the bank, including the rare 1 peso denomination.

A variety of obverse vignettes were used for the notes; the reverse vignettes, with minor variations, feature the seal of Mexico. The obverse of the 500 pesos features an allegorical design of two women, “Work” and “Knowledge,” with two young boys and El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua’s monogram in the center. The obverse of the 100 pesos depicts an armored Ceres seated with two men representing agriculture and industry in front.

The obverse vignettes on the lower denominations depict scenes rather than allegorical designs. The 50 pesos features a train pulling into a station, the 20 pesos illustrates a harvesting scene, the 10 pesos shows a rancher driving cattle, and the 5 pesos displays a miner using a pneumatic drill.

Of interest is the 1 peso obverse, which features a logging scene as the central vignette. The same scene is found on the Canadian Bank of Ottawa 5 dollars note from 1906 (Charlton 565-20-06). The later issues from 1913 (Charlton 565-22-02 and 565-26-02) feature a similar scene with the bottom row of logs removed, possibly to avoid cluttering a smaller vignette space than the 1906 issue. However, for the Chihuahua peso, ABNCo designers removed six loggers that were standing on the log pile. On the bromide, this was achieved by pasting the reworked scene directly over the original vignette. Why this change was made is unknown, though it’s possible the six loggers, who are white, looked out of place on what was to become a Mexican bank note.

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The central vignette of the 1 peso (note the whiter paper pasted over the original design)

Other examples of “vignette sharing” were commonplace for ABNCo notes. The following issues share vignettes with El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua notes:

  • Canada, Union Bank of Canada, 5 dollars, 1903-1912, SCWPM-S1493 and S1495, same obverse vignette (harvest scene) as the Chihuahua 20 pesos
  • Haiti, Republique d’Haiti, 1 gourde, 1914, SCWPM-131, same reverse vignette (harvest scene) as on the obverse of the Chihuahua 20 pesos (an example of an overprinted provisional issue, SCWPM-140a is in this auction as lot 2305)
  • Venezuela, Banco de Venezuela, 20 bolívares, SCWPM-S286, S291, S301, and S311, 1910-1936, same obverse vignette (rancher scene) as the Chihuahua 10 pesos

This is not an exhaustive list and I encourage others to provide more examples.

The other interesting aspect about the 1 peso note is its rarity. Although initial plans called for printing one million 1 peso notes, bank officials put the denomination on hold. Instead, an additional two thousand of the 500 pesos note were printed to cover the one million peso shortfall. Although ABNCo received word that plates should be prepared for the denomination, none were ever printed. Just three proofs as well as the bromide in this set are known. What should have been the most common note in the series became the rarest one instead.

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The greyed out “L” on the 500 pesos

The other denominations are more common, and this bromide set provides insight into their design process. Edits were made on the notes throughout production. The 500 pesos obverse bromide displays this best. Above the central vignette, a banner with the decree date reads PAGARA AL PORTADOR EN EFECTIVO SEGÚN DECRETO DEL 12 DE DICIEMBRE DEL MIL NOVECIENTOS TRECE. The second “DEL” should be “DE”; the ABNCo designers realized this and greyed out the erroneous “L.” On the printed notes, the sentence reads correctly and the letters are slightly shifted to fill in the space.

Another design change on the 500 pesos is the change in signatories. Spaces are available for the interventor del gobierno (government controller), the cajero (cashier), and the presidente (president of the bank); however, presidente is crossed out and gerente (manager) is written below. All printed notes display gerente printed in place of presidente.1397_500pesogerente

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Changes were made to both the signatories and the gold backing clause.

A major change between the working copies and the printed notes is the valuation. On September 14, 1914, the valuation of the 10 pesos read ORO MEXICANO. The 5 pesos bromide displays a similar valuation stating VALOR ORO MEXICANO, but by October 1, 1914, this was changed to VALOR ORO NACIONAL, as seen on the rest of the bromides as well as the finished printed notes.

Although the notes were printed and delivered in early 1915, El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua would not exist much longer. Prendergast notes that “because of the depreciation of Villa’s currency after his defeat at Celaya (April 6-15, 1915), within a year the bank found it could no longer operate.” By November 23, the bank had closed, having never issued the notes both the ABNCo and bank officials had worked hard on. Instead, the series found new life first as advertising and novelty items, and now as numismatic pieces to be bought, sold and researched.

Acknowledgements

A full history of El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua written by Simon Prendergast can be found online at http://www.papermoneyofchihuahua.com. His work has been invaluable to my interest and research on this bank note series.

Mexican Paper Money by Cory Frampton, Duane Douglas, Alberto Hidalgo, and Elmer Powell is an invaluable tool for both El Banco del Estado de Chihuahua specialists as well as Mexican bank notes in general.

Notes can be seen and purchased following these links:

Mexico, Banco del Estado de Chihuahua, Bromide “Photographic” Proofs Set, 1914  

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What You Can’t Live Without in Treasure Auction #20 (part three)

2 Nov

Today we want to make you aware of some very important silver coins you can bid on in our upcoming Sedwick Treasure, World, U.S. Coin & Paper Money Auction #20. When you see descriptions containing words or phrases like “unique,” “very rare,” “finest known,” and “unlimited value,” you can be sure these items will bring top dollar…and be worth every penny. It bears repeating that we often say you should buy the “best” coins  you can afford, whether that means coins in the best condition or of the highest rarity. The good things in life don’t come cheaply but you’ll rarely regret your decision to buy them and enjoy them for years. Good luck in our auction!

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Lot 561, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a Mexico City, Mexico, 4 reales, Charles-Joanna, “Early Series,” coin and those who collect them know that varieties with the assayer mark (P) to the left and mintmark (M) to the right are generally much rarer than others. Also, this is an early variety in Assayer P’s tenure with the use of HISPANIE instead of the later use of HISPANIARVM in the legend on the pillars side.

 

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Lot 664, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is an extremely rare Mexico City, Mexico, cob 1 real Royal, 1643/2P. It is probably unique, but certainly unique in quality and of almost unlimited in value to the specialist collector.

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Lot 777, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1634T and the first coin collected by Emilio Paoletti, (and ex-Burzio, ex-Martini, ex-Janson) with copy #1 of Paoletti’s book 8 Reales Cobs of Potosi (3rd ed., 2016) and signed by him on the first page where the number 001 appears. What a remarkable pedigree!

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Lot 857, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1652E transitional Type III from the Capitana (1654). What is interesting about this die variety is that the O-E above 52 to right of shield is punched over N-8.

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Lot 961, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales Royal, 1714Y with an interesting four-digit date below cross (the standard for 1712-15).

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Lot 967, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a very rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales Royal, 1725Y, Louis I, ordinal PRIMERO. Royals of Louis I are among the most desirable and difficult to obtain, particularly since the general coins of this period are so crude. The present example is very bold, with full inner details and nearly full legends, including full LVIS PRIMERO (not just PR) and POTOSI (the pillars side slightly off-center).

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Lot 1027, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is an extremely rare and currently unique Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1732YA. This is a very important 4R, as it is the ONLY date and assayer (not counting overdates) that we have NEVER seen in our 25-year study of Potosi pillars-and-waves cobs.

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Lot 1079, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is an extremely rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real Heart, 1718Y. It’s an attractive example of the classic Heart shape and like most Heart minors, this specimen is probably unique.

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Lot 1086, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a Bogota, Colombia, cob 8 reales, 1670, assayer PoRS. It’s the finest and only known specimen in NGC census (NGC certification #4348135001) and is certainly among the choicest Bogota pillars-and-waves cobs in existence, in fact the highest of all Bogota cob 8R at NGC by two grades.

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Lot 1338, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a very rare Nicaragua (Leon), provisional “imitation cob” 2 reales, 1823 P.M.P.Y. It is probably the finest known of this Leon type with “pine tree” tops of pillars, a type rarely seen without a hole or significant damage. See Carlos Jara’s book Central American Provisional and Provincial Mints (2007) for more information about the attribution of this type to Leon.

We hope you find exactly what you’re looking for in our upcoming auction and please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. You can see coin lots in person this weekend (and see Dan, Augi, and Connor) at the Whitman Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center November 3-6.

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What You Can’t Live Without Buying in Treasure Auction #20 (part one)

21 Oct

Our upcoming Sedwick Treasure, World, U.S. and Paper Money Auction #20 has something for everyone, and I’ll outline some highlights in upcoming blogs. First off, let’s show off our paper money section, a collectible that we haven’t been able to offer in great amounts but should become a staple of future auctions thanks to the hard work and expertise of our new employee, Connor Falk.

Lot 1522, TA #20, November 2016

At first glance, this colorful 1996 Cayman Islands 10 dollar note is appealing for the beach scene on the reverse, an open treasure chest residing beneath a palm tree as a sailboat moves in the shallow waters. But there’s an interesting backstory on this note: it shouldn’t exist. The X/1 series of notes were test notes printed by De La Rue on experimental paper, analyzed and then destroyed. A small number escaped, making them among the rarest of Cayman Islands notes. Add the fact that PMG certified this note as Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ and this lot is an impressive rarity sure to be the cornerstone of a Caribbean paper money collection.

Lot 1535, TA #20, November 2016

This 1889 100 pesos Colombian Bond is very rare with only four or five known and is the plate note featured in Compendio Historico del Papel Moneda en Colombia by Danilo Parra Ariza. It features a light blue underprint and a well-executed design including a vignette of a man with a burro cart. Other examples are known to have cancellation marks including punch holes and rhombus-shaped cuts, making this lot all the more attractive for its lack of major marks or cuts.

Lot 1536, TA #20, November 2016

This the 1889 10 pesos, similar in design as the lot above yet featuring a popular vignette of a dog.

Lot 1560 (obverse), TA #20, November 2016

Lot 1560 (reverse), TA #20, November 2016

A very scarce and popular note with a central vignette of a Carib Indian, also featured on other Guadeloupe banknotes and coins. The Caribs called Guadeloupe “Karukera” which translates to “island with beautiful waters.” Connecting with Guadeloupe’s maritime past, the reverse features a large compass rose. There are some folds and soiling, but the numerous and heavy folds that plague large notes like this one are not here, hence why PCGS certified this note as Very Fine 30.

Lot 1578 (reverse), TA #20, November 2016

Lot 1579 (obverse), TA #20, November 2016

These two Mexican notes are extremely popular and in demand due to the beautiful tri-color reverses honoring the colors of the Mexican flag. Printed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Mexican War of Independence, they are also the first commemorative banknotes in the world. Examples are scarce with notes in VF and higher rare while collectors give special attention to those with bright colors.
Check out Session 4 lots 1500-1623 for all of our bank note offerings.
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Notes from the 2016 U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona

12 Oct

hurricane-imageLast week Dan, Connor Falk (our new employee) and I traveled to Arizona ahead of Hurricane Matthew to show auction lots for our upcoming Auction #20 (more to follow on that tomorrow!) and give some presentations. We were a little unsure about leaving with a potentially dangerous storm bearing down on us, but when the going gets tough, the tough leave town. As it turned out, Matthew took an eastward jog and spared most of the central Florida area.

The U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association convention in Scottsdale is always a great time to reconnect with friends and colleagues. Connor and I got to meet Don and Lois Bailey, Mexican numismatic legends. All three of us enjoyed spending time with Ute Wartenberg Kagan, the longtime executive director of the American Numismatic Society who brought

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Connor Falk with Don Bailey

important Mexican coins from the vast collection at the Society. She will also attend our Auction #20, so if you’re attending it as well, you’ll want to meet and talk with her.

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Ute Wartenberg Kagan and Cori Downing

Augi, who stayed in Florida to make sure the hurricane didn’t blow away our office, won an award at the convention for his well-received book, The “Tumbaga” Saga, Treasure of the ConquistadorsWe’re fortunate to have a very cool “Tumbaga” bar (Lot 210) in the Auction. Dan took an award for his participation in the Counterfeit Forum last year and did so again this year. The presentation was extremely well received. I spoke on the Charles and Joanna coinage from the Mexico City mint, sharing some new research I’ve undertaken.

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All in all, it was a quick respite from the desk and chair. If you’re a collector of Mexican coins, you should become a member of the U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association and attend next year’s convention.

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The Office Travels to the U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association Fourth Annual Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona

19 Oct
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U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association

 

 

Last week Dan, Augi and I traveled to Phoenix for the U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association Fourth Annual Convention in Scottsdale from Thursday, October 15 to Saturday, October 17. While the show is small, some of the most influential dealers and auctioneers in the business attend. The convention is open to members of the U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association who were treated to both great “coin watching” and a good selection of outstanding seminars hosted by experts in the field, including Dan. Dan spoke about counterfeit coins to a packed house, so obviously there’s lots of interest in the subject. One gentleman who stopped by our table afterward mentioned that he had inadvertently bought a fake coin many years ago, but between buying The Practical Book of Cobs and listening to the lecture, he had a much better idea of what to look for when buying a coin. We also stressed to him the importance of buying and selling coins through bona fide dealers, i.e. dealers who display knowledge and answer your questions intelligently.

We had a table at the convention where we were busy showing auction lots for our upcomingDan with Customer at US Mex Show 2015 Treasure, World & U.S. Coin  Auction 18 to be held in Orlando, Florida on October 29, 2015.  The hearts and royals were a big hit, as they created an impressive display. We may never see so many of both in the same auction again! 

Another treat was when I got to meet the Executive Director of the American Numismatic Society, Ute Wartenberg Kagan, who was assisted at her table by Matt Wittmann, Assistant Curator of American Coins and Currency. It is vital that organizations like the U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association and the American Numismatic Society thrive because they are repositories of knowledge and numismatic material that the average collector might never be able to access otherwise. Collecting is about learning as much as it is about owning.

Ute, Matt and Cori at US Mex Show

While it was a long way to go for a show, I’m glad we were once again able to go. Every show is an opportunity to buy, sell, meet people, show auction lots, and learn!

Two Esteemed Guests (and Friends) Visit Our Office

18 Jun
Jorge Proctor, Agustin Garcia-Barneche, Cori Sedwick Downing (Me), Dan Sedwick, and Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom,

Jorge Proctor, Agustin Garcia-Barneche, Cori Sedwick Downing (Me), Dan Sedwick, and Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of spending some time with Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom and Jorge Proctor at our office. Both are avid researchers and writers in the field of Spanish colonial coinage and mints. Glenn is the president of the Friends of the Segovia Mint Association (Amigos de la casa de moneda de Segovia) and has worked tirelessly to rehabilitate the Segovia mint building in Spain. He’s written extensively about mints in Spain, particularly the Segovia mint or Real Ingenio which operated from 1583 to 1869. In 2009 Glenn was awarded the Grand Premio Union Europea de Patrimonio Cultural/Europa Nostra for his dedication to restoring the Segovia mint after which he published Las acuñaciones de moneda en Segovia, desde 30 a. C. hasta 1869, en conmemoración de la obra de rehabilitación del Real Ingenio de la Moneda de Segovia.  We have copies of this terrific resource book for sale!

Dan Sedwick and Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom

Dan Sedwick and Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom

Jorge Proctor with Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom and book (2)

Jorge Proctor with Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom

As many know, Jorge Proctor’s focus has been on reading and transcribing original records from such venerated repositories as the Archives of the Indies housed in Seville, Spain. He’s a detective and numismatist rolled into one! Jorge has written the definitive book on the Panama mint called The Forgotten Mint of Colonial Panama: A Look Into the Production of Coins in America During the 16th Century and Panama’s Spanish Royal House for Minting Coins. A copy of this book is rare and scarce. Lately Jorge has turned his considerable attention to the assayers at the Mexico City mint and others with a recent article entitled “The Assayers of the Mint of Mexico During the 16th Century Pillars Coinage, 1536-1571 (?)” which was published in the January/February 2015 Numismatics International Bulletin and “Who Were Mexico City Mint Assayers L and J (1677-1723)?” which was published in the June 2015 U.S. Mexico Numismatic Association journal. And Jorge is one of the fastest talkers I know, both in Spanish and English!

It was a fortuitous series of events that led to Glenn and Jorge being able to spend an afternoon with us in Winter Park and we hope they’ll come back again soon with more news from Spain and beyond.

Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom and Jorge Proctor with gold bar

Glenn Stephen Murray Fantom and Jorge Proctor with gold bar

An interesting side note this week: If you’ve opened up your June 2015 copy of The Numismatist, the monthly publication of the American Numismatic Association, you may have seen an article about us on p. 23! It’s called “Golden Cobs” and highlights our Treasure Auction #16 last November. Thanks to Andy Smith for writing the artThe Numismatist, June 2015icle.

Assayer P Coins minted under Charles and Joanna from the Mexico City Mint

21 Jan

Did you know that the Banco de Mexico has photos of almost all of their Charles and Joanna coin holdings online? A friend pointed me to the site last year, and I have been slowly incorporating these coins into my census database of both early and late series Charles and Joanna coins of all denominations. I’ll share more surprises from the Banco de Mexico’s large and beautiful trove of coins in later blogs, but for now I want to tell you something about Assayer P coins.

It finally dawned on me that there is a distinction between earlier and later coins minted under Assayer P, and you can tell this in several ways, but the most distinguishing characteristic can be found in the pillars-side legend. If you have any of these coins, take a look. Does the legend begin with HISPANIE or HISPANIARVM? If it’s HISPANIE, then you have a coin of the earlier variety.

To confuse matters more, there are a couple of varieties of HISPANIE.

Lot 251, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

Lot 251, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

I’m not sure which coins were made before the others, but one variety (pictured above) is KIS : PANIE (note the K instead of H) and the other is simply HISPANIE. You can even see that the KIS : PANIE variety is followed by INDIAR : AM instead of INDIARVM! Below is an example of HISPANIE with no funny letters.

Lot 252, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

Lot 252, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

The later varieties (see below) all use HISPANIARVM ET INDIARVM. It doesn’t matter which way the rhomboid panel points–left or right–or what sort of ornaments were used as stops between words.

Lot 253, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

Lot 253, Sedwick Treasure Auction #15, May 2014

Why were coins with HISPANIE minted before coins with HISPANIARVM? You have to go back to Assayer R, the predecessor to Assayer P and look at his coins. He used HISPANIE (with often a retrograde N), and it stands to reason that when Assayer P took over at the mint, he started with HISPANIE before settling on the more common HISPANIARVM.

You can also see the HISPANIE vs. HISPANIARVM varieties on 1 and 2 reales denominations.

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