New Discovery Stockton California National Bank Note Collection
We are pleased to announce the offering of the First National Bank of Stockton California collection of National Bank Notes including a new discovery - Series 1873 $10 Gold Bank Note (Friedberg 1146), serial number 1, a Condition Census example. Also present is a rare Series 1882 $10 "Value Back" National Bank Note, also from The First National Bank of Stockton, (Friedberg 577). To finish out the inventory, three Series 1929 Small Size Nationals, $10 (Friedberg S-2055), $20 (Friedberg S-2106), and $50 (Friedberg S-2157) are present, each bearing the unique premier serial number A000001A. All are being sold as a group, not as single lots.
Fr. 1146 $10 Series 1873 National Gold Bank Note, First National Gold Bank, Stockton California.
National Gold Bank Notes of California are one of the most romantic of all currency issues. Their existence relates to the California Gold Rush of 1848 and they remain today as tangible mementos of the Winning of the West. These notes are easily associated with gold. First, the paper on which they are printed is a yellow-gold color (instead of white), an effort to imitate gold and secondly, the reverses show a group of assorted American gold coins ranging from one to twenty dollars. Interestingly enough, these coins appear to be well circulated, not Mint State examples chosen for the photograph. As the population of California continued to grow, trade and commerce increased to such an extent that the California banks were soon handling enormous quantities of gold coins in their daily transactions. In those days in California, gold was the universal medium of exchange. The handling and counting of so many coins was time consuming and a barrier to the efficient operation of the banks. In order to facilitate these numerous gold transactions, Congress passed the Act of July 12, 1870 which authorized nine Gold Banks in California and one in Boston to issue and circulate currency redeemable in gold coin. This was highly unusual since the Treasury Department had not yet resumed specie payments, which did not come until 1879. The denominations issued were $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500, but not all banks issued all denominations.
These banks were Gold Banks in addition to being National Banks and their operation came under the general provisions of the National Banking Act of 1863. They were required to deposit the legal amount of United States Bonds with the Treasurer of the United States. The obligation of redeeming these notes in gold coin rested with each bank and not the Federal government. The notes were readily accepted in California at par with gold, and most went through a long life of active and useful circulation. Indeed, so active was the circulation that very few notes have survived above Very Fine condition (most are Good to Fine with apparent damage).
The First National Gold Bank of Stockton California was organized in 1872 under U.S. laws as a gold bank, but in 1879 was re-organized under the general banking laws of the United States, thus ending the Gold Bank status for its charter. This 1873 $10 Gold Note is signed by H.H. Hewlett, President of the bank at the time, and a prominent citizen of Stockton (San Joaquin County). Hewlett apparently clipped this note from the top of the first sheet received at his bank and subsequently gave it to his daughter. The top reverse margin of the $10 Gold Bank Note exhibits the following hand written inscription:
"1873 - Lizzie Hewlett to be kept as a keepsake being the first 10 dollar note issued and given her by her Father."
The obverse features vignettes of Benjamin Franklin drawing electricity from the sky with a kite and a key, on the right, Liberty soars on an eagle, clutching lightning in her hand. The reverse features the California State emblem to the left and an eagle with wings partially spread standing on a shield at the right. The center vignette is a beautiful display of United States gold coins in various denominations within a large oval, a unique design for these gold notes.
Since these notes were printed in sheets of four subjects, (three $10s and a single $20 at the bottom), the extended margin at the top that includes the additional Federal serial number validates this was the first note on the sheet, and the first sheet issued by the bank indicated by serial number 1 at the left bottom. The obverse margin shows some minor penciling including the word "Gooding" and a small hole. Also at the upper right of the margin, the numbers 2503 are reversed. This is not the charter number since it is 2412. Over the years, the note has been folded and handled, presumably by the heirs of the estate, not placed in general circulation. We estimate the grade at Very Fine to Extremely Fine, much finer than normally seen on these rare Gold Coin Notes. Other than the previously described penciling in the top margin, a small, circular pencil mark is visible (from both sides) in the upper left margin to the right of "Gooding." A tiny tear is also present to the left of the Treasury serial number in the upper margin.
Fr. 577 $10 Series 1882 "Value Back" National Bank Note, First National Bank, Stockton California, Charter #(P)2412. The Act of July 12, 1882 provided for a series of new note designs with denominations of $5 through $100. All existing national banks had their corporate lives extended 20 years. Newly organized national banks and those which were extended began receiving the new Series 1882 notes from the Treasury. Congressional actions in the following years resulted in three distinct types of Series 1882 notes: Series1882 "Brown Backs," Series 1882 "Date Backs," and Series 1882 "Value Backs." This note is a "Value Back." The Aldrich-Vreeland Act expired on June 30, 1915. After that date, national banks were no longer permitted to use "other securities" to secure their notes -- only Unites States Bonds could be deposited. Banks that had been issuing Series 1882 "Date Backs" began to issue Series 1882 "Value Backs." On 1882 "Value Backs" the denomination is spelled out across the central portion of the back replacing the "1882-1908" of the previously issued "Date Backs." The face designs are basically the same of the previous issues. The issue of 1882 "Value Backs" ended in 1922.
Generally speaking, "Value Back" Nationals become more scarce as you head West, with many of the exceedingly rare issues from states such as Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California. According to the Kelly Census, only 12 large size notes (including all denominations) are still outstanding. This Series 1882 $10, Charter number 2412, from the First National Bank of Stockton shows light wear, but still exhibits brightly colored inks and white paper. The obverse design is similar to that of the preceding note but without the references to gold coins. On the reverse at the left, the head of William P. Fessenden, the Secretary of the Treasury in 1864, and on the right, a seated figure representing mechanics. The value TEN DOLLARS is at the center.
We grade this note Extremely Fine with a few creases. There are no pinholes or tears. As an identifier, when F.A. Bramblitt (Head Cashier) signed the note, a small curving ink mark appeared on the back through the paper. This is mentioned only as a pedigree identifier, not a distraction. A rarely seen "Value Back National" from this coveted California bank.
Fr. S-2055 Series 1929 $10 First National Bank of Stockton California, Charter 2412. Type One. Serial Number A000001A. The change from large size notes to small size notes took place in July 1929, and affected all types of Federal currency. It came about for two reasons: small size notes were cheaper to produce, and the Treasury wanted to adopt a uniform currency design for all forms of paper money. Small size Nationals were issued from July 1929 to May 1935 after which National Bank Notes were no longer issued. The discontinuance was brought about by the Treasury recall of certain United States bonds, thus making them unavailable as security for further issues of "Nationals."
Each of the three small size National Bank Notes in this group represent the first notes issued by the First National Bank of Stockton, Charter #2412, in July 1929. Each of the three denominations offered in this collection, like all other small sized Nationals, was printed on a vertical sheet of 12 subjects which was subsequently cut into two sheets containing six (vertical) notes. When the Bureau of Engraving and Printing received an order from a specific bank, the notes were then overprinted with the bank name, officer's signatures, and charter number, all in black ink. Finally, in a third step, the serial numbers and Treasury seal were overprinted in brown ink.
This note was saved from the first day it was received in Stockton California by descendants of the Hewlett family. As is typical for long-time storage by non-collectors, it now shows signs of light handling and creases. A small, inconspicuous red stain is in lower portion of the 1 of 10 at the upper right, and a pencil mark is in the upper right margin.
Fr. S-2106 Series 1929 $20 First National Bank of Stockton California, Charter 2412. Type One. Serial Number A000001A. According to the Kelly reference, only 16 small sized National Bank Notes comprise the Census for the First National Bank of Stockton. We can find few auction records for this rare bank (including large and small sized notes), and all we have seen are lower grade examples. We grade this note XF/AU with a small pencil mark "H" in the upper right margin. Minor creasing shows. This, possibly, was an H indicating the Hewlett family.
Fr. S-2157 Series 1929 $50 First National Bank of Stockton California, Charter 2412. Type One. Serial Number A000001A. The third and final small sized National Bank Note from this collection. It is a high grade example with bright paper and inks, showing only the slightest handling and creasing. We grade this example AU with tiny pencil marks in the upper left margin with resemble "OCH," possibly the initials of a Hewlett relative. The backs of the $10 and $20 notes are a slightly deeper green color, the $50 is a shade lighter.
The above-listed Stockton Bank Note Collection represents a unique opportunity for the collector of rare Nationals to acquire five highly desirable examples that have never been offered before. All notes are being sold as a group only and will not be offered as separate lots.