Tag Archives: Study

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

20 Dec

by Connor Falk


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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  

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.

Having a (Blue) Devil of a Good Time

8 Apr

Many people know that my brother, Dan, and I attended Duke University and some may remember that our father, Frank Sedwick, graduated from Duke way back in 1944. But the legacy doesn’t end with us. Our sister went to Duke Medical School, our older brother graduated from Duke, and we have a nephew who graduated a couple of years ago. Do we bleed Duke blue? Yes, we do!! Duke University

Naturally Monday’s NCAA men’s basketball final game between Duke and Wisconsin was a big hit in our households. Perfect timing for us: the hot-off-the-presses Treasure Auction #17 catalogs were in the mail to bidders and customers. We could take a breath and enjoy the victory.

This week, it’s back to business as Dan and Augi leave for the Chicago International Coin Fair. You can view auction lots there, so make plans to attend!

As for the auction, here are some of my favorite items that you might want to check out:

  1. Did you read the 2007 interview between Dan and Lou Ullian (now deceased) that appears on page 8? It’s a great read.
  2. The section on Shipwreck and Hoard Histories on p. 12 is always enlightening.
  3. Gold, gold, and more gold starting with coins on p. 23 and bars on p. 63.
  4. Do your tastes run to silver instead of gold? How about silver bars starting on p. 69?
  5. The shipwreck coins section begins on p. 73.
  6. Check out the VERY SPECIAL “First dollar coin of South America,” the 8R Rincon Lima (Lot 711) and other denominations of the Rincon series on pp. 152-155.
  7. Then check out the Roman-Egyptian clump, lot 267 on p. 73. When will you ever see something like that again??
  8. I love Royals (what’s not to like?) and there are plenty in this auction: Lot 706 (1/2R Mexico), Lot 707 (1/2R Mexico), Lot 753 (2R Lima), Lot 897 (8R Potosi), Lot 909 (8R Potosi), Lot 910 (8R Potosi), Lot 914 (8R Potosi), Lot 928 (8R Potosi), and Lot 945 (8R Potosi).
  9. For those who like their coins non-sea salvage, check out coins starting on p. 145.
  10. DO NOT MISS Dan’s article that includes a table of Potosi 8R of Philip II on p. 164!
  11. Ancients begin on p. 215.
  12. World coins begin on p. 219.
  13. Medals and tokens can be found starting on p. 268.
  14. Documents are on p. 275. Maps are always fun and a wonderful wall adornment (I have an antique map of Peru on my office wall to remind me of a trip I took there with my husband).
  15. The ever-popular shipwreck artifacts section begins on p. 278 and some of my favorites in this section include a stunning gold-and-red-coral rosary (Lot 1400), a sweet olive blossom chain (Lot 1466), a very large olive jar (Lot 1486), and an impressive Spanish brass cannon (Lot 1504).

And don’t miss the last lot, Lot 1560, with a picture of yours truly holding a GIGANTIC plaster reproduction of an 8 escudos Mexico royal!

Happy Bidding to all.

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