Paper Money of Chihuahua

.. by Simon Prendergast

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American Bank Note Company notes

$1 Banco Mejicano

The American Bank Note Company records the following print runs.

25c50c$1$2$5$10$20
1881 Dec 200,000 150,000 175,000
1883 June 123,000 50,000 21,000 7,500 1,000
1887 Nov 400,000
600,000 150,000 298,000 50,000 21,000 7,500 1,000

The National Bank Note Company was taken over by the American Bank Note Company in 1879 and the latter used the early plates for a further print run in December 1881ABNC. The new designs for the 25c, 50c and $1 with the contraseña were approved on 30 December 1881 and a printing of 25c notes in November 1887, but altered them by adding a contraseña, a small 2 in a circle. On the 25c this symbol is at the end of Maceyra's signature: on the 50c it is before and after the phrase 'AL PORTADOR' and on the $1 it is above both the series letter.  The 25c has larger numbers than on the first issue, and some are also seen with no numbers as the last 52,576 were delivered to the bank without numbering.  It seems that for the $1, the numbering started with Serie F thus:

A 5, 17, ...
B 11, 23, ...
C 6, 18, ...
D 12, 24, ...
E 7, 19, ...
F 1, 13, ...
G 8, 20, ...
H 2, 14, ...
I 9, 21, ...
J 3, 15, ...
K 10, 22, ...
L 4, 16, ...

On 26 December 1881 a Mexican newspaper reported a monetary crisis (crisis monetaria) in Paso del Norte (Ciudad Juárez) caused by a combination of an abundance of Banco Mexicano notes and a lack of silver coinsEl Siglo Diez y Nueve, 26 December 1881. Had the new notes driven out the silver coinage, forcing merchants to accept them against their will?.

On 4 July 1883 an additional issue of 300,000 pesos in notes of one, two, five, ten and twenty pesos, payable in hard cash (en pesos fuertesthe notes themselves bear the legend en moneda de plata del cuño mejicano), was authorised. These, like other banknotes authorised after this date, had to carry the signature of the Administrador General de Rentas or some mark to show that they had been recorded in a book in his officePeriódico Oficial, 14 July 1883. These had already been ordered from the American Bank Note CompanyOne $1 face plate and one $1 back plate (6 notes on each) and one $1 tint plate (1 note) made on order on 5 June 1883.
One $2 face plate and one $2 back plate (4 notes on each) and one $2 tint plate (1 note) made on order on 5 June 1883.
One $5 face plate and one $5 back plate (4 notes on each) and one $5 tint plate (4 notes) made on order on 5 June 1883.
One $10 face plate and one $10 back plate (2 notes on each) and one $10 tint plate (2 notes) made on order on 5 June 1883.
One $20 face plate and one $20 back plate (1 note on each) and one $20 tint plate (1 note) made on order on 5 June 1883.
These were cancelled on 14 March 1932.
and dates written on proofs and orders suggest that the notes were actually printed in August 1883. The $5 was originally proofed in red, then changed to blue, whilst the $10 was originally proofed in blue, then redone in red. Again the $10 was originally Series A, but then the five different denominations were given the five different series letters, A to EABNC. These notes were put into circulation on 18 September 1883Periódico Oficial, 20 September 1883.

Signatories

The signatories continued to be Félix Francisco Maceyra as President and Ramón Luján as Accountant (Contador).

Félix Francisco Maceyra: Maceyra was born in Chihuahua City in 1832 but after studying in Paris he set up in business in the mining town of Jesús María (now Ocampo). He became 'one of the leading capitalists in the state, enjoying unlimited credit in Mexico and the United States'Francisco Almada, Gobernadores de Chihuahua, Chihuahua, 1980. In 1880 he was one of the founding shareholders of the bank and as manager in May 1881 inaugurated the first telephone line in the city between the bank and the mint (Casa de Moneda). He was substitute governor in 1885 and afterwards represented Chihuahua in the Senate for three terms. He died in 1897.

Ramón Remigio Luján: He appears as contador on the Banco Mejicano notes and later as cashier (cajero) of the Banco Mexicano from September 1888 until December 1890 and again between May 1893 and December 1895. Born in 1833, Luján was the owner of the Corralitos mines, a state deputy, and jefe político of Galeana. He died in 1899.

1884 nickel crisis

In 1884 Mexican President Manuel González attempted to introduce a new nickel coinage but this was immediately rejected by the population. On 14 April there were riots in Chihuahua as shopkeepers refused to accept the coins and since there were no other acceptable low value coins in circulation the general public were unable to purchase essential goods. To deal with the crisis Interim Governor Celso González ordered 4,400 pesos in copper coins from the Secretaría de Hacienda and also granted each of the four banks in Chihuahua permission to issue fractional paper currency in one, five and ten centavos values up to the amount of 5,000 pesosInforme of Governor Celso González, 1 June 1884.

No examples are known from this bank though a contemporary Mexico City newspaper implies that the bank, along with the Banco de Santa Eulalia and the Banco Minero Chihuahuense, did issue such fractional notesEl Tiempo, 19 August 1884. It can be seen (see Notes in Circulation) that the value of notes in circulation includes odd centavos and so suggests that some notes had been issued, though there are also odd centavo amounts in the balance sheet of the second issue.

Newspaper reports of a robbery, 1885

In April 1885 American newspapers reported that a box containing sixty thousand dollars (sic) in unsigned banknotes destined for the bank, stored in the Custom House at Ciudad Juárez, was broken open and robbed of all but a five thousand dollar package. Three customs officials were arrested on suspicion and steps taken to notify all areas of Chihuahua of the robberyLos Angeles Times, 29 April 1885: Salt Lake Herald, 29 April 1885:The Deseret News, 1 May 1885. However, this was a mistake, corrected in later reportsGalveston Daily News, 30 April 1885: it was the Banco Minero Chihuahuense that suffered the lossIt is likely that the newspapers misread the notification (presuming un banco mexicano to be el Banco Mexicano).

‘Billetes de moneda corriente’ and ‘billetes de pesos fuertes’

In November 1884 the American Bank Note Company produced ten electrotypes with the legend "El Banco Mexicano pagará á la vista el valor de este billete en plata á la par. – 1884” (presumably similar to the ones it produced for the Banco de Santa Eulalia).

In 1887 the newspaper El Parral complained about unjust practices at the bank’s branch or agency in Hidalgo del Parral. The Jefe Político of the district investigated and found that the agency only issued Banco Mexicano notes in moneda corriente, and changed them for pesos fuertes at the normal local discount of 9%, and that Banco Mexicano notes in pesos fuertes were only issued by the bank’s head offices in Chihuahua, and could only be redeemed there. The Parral branch had no obligation to exchange these, so when people presented them, the branch did offer notes in moneda corriente but included the 9% premiumPeriódico Oficial, 2 February 1887.

Summary of Banco Mejicano issues

So the 'Banco Mejicano' issues are:

Print date Series Control
number
Date from to Comment
25c 1878 Sep A 1878 0001 200000
1881 Dec A 2 1878 200001 400000
1887 Nov A 1878 400001 747424 The final 52,576 notes of the 400,000 print run were delivered to the bank without serial numbers
50c 1878 Sep A 1878 000001 brown seal
A 1878 150000 orange seal
1881 Dec A 2 1878 150001 300000 orange seal
$1 1878 Sep A 1878 1 175000
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
1881 Dec A 2 1878 175001 350000
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
1883 June A 1883 0001 123000 The original order was for 150,000 banknotes but only 123,000 notes were delivered.
$2 1883 June B 1883 0001 50000
$5 1883 June C 1883 0001 21000
$10 1883 June D 1883 0001 7500
$20 1883 June E 1883 0001 1000