Before the Federal government began printing and distributing nationalized currency, many local banks would issue their own banknotes to help facilitate financial transactions, especially in areas where coinage was scarce. Sadly, many of these financial institutions failed, leaving the holder of the note with nothing but a worthless piece of paper. Currency of this era, whether the institution remained solvent or not, has become known to modern collectors as “broken bank notes”, and they are one of the most popular collectibles from the period. Generally these notes are very artistic, with attractive vignettes and fancy geometric designs. The presently offered note is particularly interesting, given its unusual (by modern standards) denomination and the vignettes two of our founding fathers. The central vignette features a classically draped seated female, representing Lady Liberty, with a Phrygian capped pole supported along her left side. In her upraised right hand she holds a cup, from which a spread-winged eagle appears to be drinking. Both figures seem to be resting upon a large rock, with dark clouds looming in the background. This scene is flanked by two oval medallions, with the denomination printed upon each. The lower portion of the vignette is also flanked by the beginning of the financial obligation, while the remainder is printed below. This obligation states that “The President Directors & Co. of the BANK of AUGUSTA promise to pay THREE DOLLARS to the bearer on demand.”, followed by the location of issue – “Augusta, Georgia” – and a line for the date (the first two digits of the year are pre-printed). Three additional lines appear below, the upper one for the serial number and the lower two for the signatures of the “Cashr.” and “Prest.” of the bank (left and right respectively). The left end of the note features a secondary vignette with a facing bust of Benjamin Franklin in an oval frame, while the right end depicts a similar vignette with a ¾ facing portrait of George Washington. The denomination, expressed in numerical format, appears in a circular medallion in each corner of the note, with each of the medallions bearing a slightly different inner design. This note was printed by “Pete Maverick N.York.” as evidenced by his imprint between the signature lines and the lower frame-line. The back, as with many notes of this era, was left blank. This attractive note measures approximately 2.85 x 6.75 inches and was executed in period printers black ink on reasonably high quality paper. Though once considered common, notes of this type are becoming quite popular with collectors and are therefore much more difficult to locate in today’s marketplace. This is a great opportunity to add one to your collection.
The presently offered note is in uncirculated condition, never having been issued for use. It bears no signatures or serial number, re-enforcing the fact that the piece was never used in commerce (notes used in circulation were signed before issuance). The margins are reasonably wide and only slightly uneven, neatly framing the wonderfully executed designs. All four corners are sharp and well defined, with none of the folds found on many of these pieces. The paper has a somewhat mottled appearance, a condition caused during the production process and exacerbated by the passage of time (this is most noticeable when the note is viewed from the back). A high grade example of this interesting note, worthy of inclusion in any obsolete currency collection.