Paper Money of Chihuahua

.. by Simon Prendergast

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Home The History El Banco Minero The first Banco Minero Chihuahuense

The first Banco Minero Chihuahuense

The first Banco Minero Chihuahuense was set up by an anti-Terrazas faction from Guerrero, the mining area 100 miles west of Chihuahua. Celso González and Manuel de Herrera were relatives by marriage of the Casavantes, the leading family in Guerrero, and together with Juan María Salazar, a rich businessman and land-owner, founded the firm of González, Herrera, Salazar y Compañía.

Celso E. González Mendivil: Born in Teocaltiche, Jalisco in 1834 Celso spent his youth in Guerrero where his uncle was a missionary. He was a land-owner, held stakes in mining companies and the surveying company, the Compañía deslindadora Jesús E. Valenzuela y socios. González was in charge of collecting taxes (recaudador de rentas) in 1867 and a deputy to the local Congress on five occasions. He was substitute governor from 9 April to 3 October 1884 and had to deal with the nickel coinage crisis. Then when the federal Code of Commerce came into force, he had to direct efforts to ensure that the local banks maintained their concessions. Later he was twice substitute governor for Lauro Carrillo. González’s fortunes deteriorated in the 1890s, by which time the Terrazas had taken over the Banco Minero Chihuahuense and the Banco de Chihuahua. Without their own access to credit the Guerrero undertakings could not survive the financial depression. González himself obtained a loan from Enrique Creel for 200,000 pesos but by the time of his death, in 1897, the loan had not been repaid and as a result Creel took over all the estates that González had built up during the 1880s and 1890s and had had to pledge as securityEl Correo, 24 May 1903.

Manuel de Herrera: He was born in Villa de la Concepción (now Ciudad Guerrero) in 1830. He was in charge of tax collection (recaudador de rentas) in 1849, jefe político of Guerrero, a deputy in nine local legislatures from 1871 to 1890, and jefe político of Chihuahua in 1876. He was interim governor in 1876 and stood in as substitute for Carlos Pacheco again in 1888. He died in 1898.

Juan María Salazar: A rich businessman and land-owner with power bases in Cusihuiriachic and Parral.

The first Banco Minero Chihuahuense

In the 1870s these three tried to move their firm’s centre of operations from Cusihuiriachic to Chihuahua and entered banking and urban transport. On 31 December 1878 their company received permission from the Trias administration to establish a bank, the Banco Minero Chihuahuense, and was authorised to issue up to 300,000 pesos in notes of twenty-five centavos, fifty centavos and one peso payable in legal tender or in hard cash (silver pesos) at an 8% discount (pagaderos en moneda corriente ó en pesos fuertes con el ocho por ciento de descuento, a eleccíon del Banco). The bank was given ten months to begin operationsPeriódico Oficial, 12 January 1879.

The firm had yet to establish its bank by May 1879‘Messrs. Herrera, Gonzales, Salger and Co. are going to establish a bank in Chihuahua’ Thirty Four, Las Cruces, 11 May 1879 and on 31 July 1879 it was given another five months in which to start operatingPeriódico Oficial, 10 August 1879.The bank arranged for the American Note Bank Company to prints its notes. Among the ABNC papers are a letter from Chihuahua dated 30 October 1879 with instructions for the legend, and a  memorandum that Manuel de Herrera suggested as vignettes for the $1 a female (young matron) leading a child by the hand, for the 50c Minerva, and for 25c some appropriate vignettes suggesting the mining industryABNC papers.
The 25c face plate (21 notes) and 25c back plate (21 notes) and 25c tint plate (21 notes), the 50c face plate (21 notes) and 50c back plate (21 notes) and 50c tint plate (21 notes), and the $1 face plate (12 notes) and $1 back plate (12 notes) and $1 tint plate (12 notes) were engraved on 21 February 1880.
The 25c face were approved 22 February and 15 March 1880: the reverse 25 February and 13 March 1880 in sheet of 3 x 7.
The 50c reverse were approved 23 February and 19 March 1880 in sheet of 3 x 7.

However, the bank closed in 1881 without officially issuing any notes. Nevertheless, these had already been produced by the American Bank Note Company, with the dateline ‘CHIHUAHUA 1880’, and a few slipped into circulation in early 1882.

On 27 March 1882 the jefe político of Parral sent an example of a banknote to Chihuahua, amid reports that a regular quantity of them were circulating at various places in the sierra. It transpired that Herrera, Gonzalez, Salagar y Compañía (sic) had sent some twenty notes out as specimens (muestra). The Secretaria del Gobierno wrote to the jefe político of Satevó (cantón Victoria), instructing him to collect from Cesario Sánchez or his agents any in circulation, and suggested the jefe político of Parral did the same. On 25 April 1882 the jefe político of Satevó reported that Sánchez had no such notesAMP, Gobierno, Gobierno del Estado, Correspondencia, caja 106, exp 12. These notes could have emanated from the first Banco Minero Chihuahuense (in which case they will have had different signatories), or been a trial run by the second bank (though that was established a few months later and in Ciudad Juárez in the north of the state), or been stolen by an enterprising Sánchez.

The rest of the notes were used by the second Banco Minero Chihuahuense.


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