Prior to the introduction of government issued currency during the dark days of the Civil War, business transactions were generally accomplished through some of barter or with specie (coins). To help alleviate shortages in government coinage which frequently occurred, many local banks or individual businesses would resort to the issuance of scrip notes. These could range in quality from terribly crude to professionally executed, with the chance of redemption often proportional to the look of the note. Many of these notes were issued with no thought as to their legality, only the idea that a need was being satisfied and the public’s monetary burdens were being eased. Sadly, many of the entities which issued these notes failed to redeem them (whether intentionally or not), leaving the public to suffer and bear the loss. These reminders of a bygone era are very popular with collectors, especially those that are well executed or were issued by historic entities. The presently offered specimen is an example of one of those popular issues. The principal vignette depicts a side-wheel steamboat in agitated water, passing across the note from right to left. The name of the boat, the “GRANITE STATE”, is boldly emblazoned on the side, while a small flag at the bow bears the letters “GS” (Granite State). The American flag flies at the stern, though its method of attachment is somewhat ambiguous. A two-masted sailing ship can be seen in the left background, while a single-masted ship navigates the waters in the right foreground. A secondary vignette depicting an attractive young woman dominates the upper left corner of the note, presented in an elaborately designed oval frame. The opposite corner features a decorative medallion, within which the denomination is presented by a large numeral. Between these elements, at the top center of the note, a short financial obligation is presented. This obligation states that “THE BANK OF NEW-ENGLAND AT GOODSPEED’S LANDING Will pay Three Dollars to bearer on demand”, followed by the city of issue, “EAST HADDAM”, an unaccomplished line for the date, and “THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT”. An additional un-accomplished line appears to the left of the state name, this to be completed with the serial number upon issuance. The denomination, on fancy geometric designs, is presented in numerical format to the left and right of the primary vignette, and in written format at the lower left and center. Un-accomplished lines for the signatures of the “Cashr” and “Prest” can be found to the right of the vignette, separated by the three line design bearing the denomination (the cashier line is above and the president line is below the design). It is interesting to note that “Caveat entered at the Patent Office” is printed in small letters below the cashier’s signature line, though it’s significance is not known to the cataloguer (this is the first time I have seen this on a note, though it appears on other denominations from this bank). The note was printed by “Danforth, Wright & Co. New York & Philada”, with foregoing imprint appearing between the president’s signature line and the two line rectangular border that encloses the entire design. As with many notes of this era, the back was never printed with a design (nothing could be printed on the back that was not already printed on the front). This interesting and attractive note measures approximately 3.05 x 7.50 inches and is printed in black ink on relatively thin paper. Since it was never dated, numbered, or signed, it is obvious that this particular note was not issued for circulation but was instead cut from a sheet that remained in inventory at the closure of the bank. While it is not rare, this note would still make a great addition to any obsolete currency collection given its intricate design and wonderful eye appeal.
Research indicates that East Haddam is a small town located in Middlesex County, along the Connecticut River, in the south-central portion of Connecticut. The population, as of the 2010 census, was listed as 9,126 individuals. According to the Wikipedia entry, the area that was to become Haddam and East Haddam was purchased from the local Indians in 1662 for 30 coats worth approximately $100. East Haddam was incorporated as a separate town from Haddam in 1734. Two landings were historically associated with the town, the upper one along Main Street and the lower one near the Goodspeed Opera House (still in operation today). This lower landing became known as Goodspeed’s Landing, the location mentioned on the presently offered note, since it was at the center of a district dominated by the businesses of William Henry Goodspeed. According to tourist sites devoted to this town, many of the attractive and historic buildings in this area have been preserved.
The presently offered note is in un-circulated 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). The paper appears light tan in color, providing a lovely backdrop to the wonderful engraved designs. A high grade example of this popular denomination, worthy of inclusion in any obsolete currency collection.