An unrivaled early yellow seal silver certificate in fabulous certified grade. This is the key, the rarest of all WW2 emergency note varieties. While North Africa notes are scarce, popular, and undervalued, they are virtually unavailable with such rich color and unbelievable quality. Might have graded even higher. Six years ago we handled a similar piece but with some reverse staining. We consigned it to public auction where they described it as, "Rarely in the small size collecting community is there a note that could create the excitement that accompanies the arrival of this newly discovered example. For decades the only known 1934 North Africa $10 star was the note long held in Jim Thompson's celebrated collection. This piece was the highlight of his small size holdings, and traded hands only after his untimely passing in 1998, when it sold privately for a price "in excess of $50,000," according to the Oakes catalogue. That piece now resides in the tightest of hands, and may not return to the market for the next generation, if indeed that soon. The example we offer here is even nicer than the Thompson piece. It is utterly original and totally unmolested, displaying bold colors, broad margins, and a lovely overall appearance, with minimal evidence of any real circulation. With the Thompson example having never been publicly offered, this marks the first opportunity that collectors of small size notes have ever had to obtain the fabled rarity. We are hesitant to even offer an estimate here, and may well be conservative, because once this opportunity has passed, it may be decades before any other specimen of this rarity comes to the market. If rarity and desirability are any guide here, expect this piece to easily break the six-figure barrier." In a furious bidding battle that specimen, uncertified, fetched over $120,000. Here is a chance to acquire a similar and arguably superior note. An incredible opportunity.
We Americans like to think we are immune from lots of things. Among these are domestic wars.
We read about foreign conflicts in the news, but we think of these things more in the terms of news entertainment rather than reality. We haven't had a war on our own soil since the end of the Civil War in 1865. During the Civil War period there were lots of emergency money issues. These included what today are called Patriotic Civil War tokens, Merchant tokens, fractional bank notes, encased postage and more.
Collectors are either confused or intrigued by these issues, but nonetheless they are viewed as something out of our historic past. Today when emergency money in the form of locally-issued tokens, unusual paper scrip or rebel coinage are issued somewhere in the world we view it just as that-something to collect from somewhere else in the world. To most of us it is simply something relating to what we have heard on the news, but it doesn't touch us personally since the conflict is so far away.
Actually, the United States has issued emergency money in relatively recent years due to conflicts in which it has been involved. World War II and the more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and even Haiti have been times where emergency money has been issued in one form or another.
During World War II the United States issued 5-cent "nickel" coins comprised of copper-silver-maganese alloy between 1942 and 1945 due to the need for nickel in various war materials. Some 1942 nickels and all others through 1945 display a large P (Philadelphia), D (Denver) or S (San Francisco) above the dome of Monticello on the reverse to identify the Mint of issue. This is also to distinguish the coins from those produced of nickel.
Perhaps the most noticeable of our World War II emergency issues was the 1943 zinc-coated steel cents, followed by the shell-case bronze cents of 1944 and 1945. The white color cents of 1943 were found to be confusing when compared to a dime and dirty in appearance once they circulated. Most were later mercifully dumped into the Atlantic Ocean where they presumably poisoned the fish.
Emergency paper money was also issued during World War II. Some bank notes were overprinted with the word HAWAII, or produced with yellow seals for use in africa, each issued in the appropriate region (Allied troops occupied North Africa.), keeping in mind if the area was overrun by the enemy the notes could quickly be declared withdrawn before the money could be seized and used against us through the purchase of needed supplies by our enemies.
Allied Occupation Currency followed in Europe and Japan following the war. This was produced in the form of paper money, but not coins.
Beginning about the time of the Korean Conflict the United States began to issue Military Payment Certificates to troops both in war zones and in any area deemed to be militarily and politically unstable. As with the World War II overprints the idea was the notes could be quickly withdrawn if large quantities were captured by an enemy, if counterfeiting became a problem or simply if the local black market got too far out of hand trading in them.
The concept of the MPC continued through the so-called peaceful period between the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War, then was again used during the Vietnam War. Some of these issues were withdrawn on short notice in favor of others when it was deemed appropriate by the military.
I have heard at least one unsubstantiated story about an officer in a U.S.-occupied Vietnam village who heard a series of the MPCs were going to be withdrawn and proceeded to make purchases with monopoly money, claiming this was the new replacement scrip. Readers should be cautious; this could yet another tale in a series of urban legends about currency and many other things in our society.
Perhaps one of the least well-known exonumia areas of numismatics is the Safe Conduct Pass, a piece of unnegotiable scrip that looks very similar to bank notes of the country in which they are distributed. The SCP leaflets are typically dropped from planes onto enemy positions, encouraging the enemy to use them as a pass to surrender without being ill-treated later. These have been issued during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Propaganda notes are also considered an exonumia collectible. These also look similar to negotiable bank notes, but actually poke fun at the enemy and encourage them to surrender. These were used just prior to the U.S. military maneuvers against Haiti several years ago, as well as by both sides in the Gulf War against Iraq. Issues of World War II and other conflicts are more difficult to find.
There are many emergency issues of recent conflicts in which the U.S. has been involved. Collecting them can be a challenging theme that will bring these conflicts closer to home.
Silver Certificates were printed for a time in the United States as a form of paper currency. They were produced in response to silver agitation by citizens who were angered by the Fourth Coinage Act, which placed the United States on the gold standard. The certificate was matched to the same amount of value in silver coinage. For example, one fifty dollar Silver Certificate equals fifty silver dollars.
There are a few features that distinguish a Silver Certificate. The seal and serial numbers on many of the first Silver Certificates issued were red, brown, and blue. It was not until Series 1899 for the $1, $2, and $5 denominations that the seal and number colors were officially and permanently changed to blue. (This occurred at different points for denominations above $5). During World War II the government issued 1935a Silver Certificates with a brown seal for Hawaii distribution and 1935a certificates with a yellow seal for North Africa distribution. The idea was that if these areas fell into enemy hands during the war, the money would be able to be easily identified and cancelled so as to prevent large monetary losses.
The obligation of a certificate states how much of a specific commodity the government of a country will "pay to the bearer." On most large-size Silver Certificates, the obligation reads: "This certifies that there have/has been deposited in the Treasury of the United States of America (number) silver dollar(s) payable to the bearer on demand." On small-sized Silver Certificates beginning with Series 1934, in order to denote current location of deposit, it was changed to read: "This certifies that there is on deposit in the Treasury of the United States of America (number) dollar(s) in silver payable to the bearer on demand."
The "Coinage Act of 1873" placed the United States on the gold standard, which replaced the bimetallic (silver and gold) standard that had been created by Alexander Hamilton. Many of the poorer citizens saw this as a "crime," and silver agitation began. The Bland-Allison Act, as it came to be known, was passed by Congress on February 28, 1878. It did not provide for the "free and unlimited coinage of silver" demanded by Western miners, but it did require the United States Treasury to purchase between $2 million and $4 million of silver bullion from mining companies in the West. The silver coins that were to be minted would be legal tender for all debts, like gold. These coins, however, were quite heavy, so the government applied their gold certificate strategy to the silver. Suppose that there were five silver dollars in the treasury. The government would print a $5 Silver Certificate against the dollars, providing a somewhat easier medium of exchange. The idea was kept, and Series 1878 was printed in denominations of $10 to $1000.
Certificates circulated, mainly in the $1 denomination, widely throughout the United States in the years following 1934. When the '34s wore out, they were replaced with a new, more modern-looking Series 1953 (1935 for the $1 silvers; see below), with the same face changes as the Series 1950 Federal Reserve Notes had experienced. However, the Silver Certificates began to disappear from circulation during the 1940s and 1950s. The amount of Silver Certificates in circulation depended directly upon the amount of silver bullion in the Treasury vaults. As people redeemed the certificates for bullion or silver dollars, the notes were shredded, because the notes had lost their backing and could not be recirculated unless there was more silver being produced. The price of silver was also rising. In 1960, it was nearing $1.29, which meant that silver dollars were worth more than $1. This meant that people would receive their silver dollars, and melt them down for the bullion, thereby reducing the amount of silver in circulation, which was already falling.
In March 1964, Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon halted redemption of Silver Certificates for Silver Dollars. In the 1970s, large numbers of the remaining silver dollars in the mint vaults were sold to the collecting public for collector value. Silver Certificates were abolished by Congress on June 4, 1963 and all redemption in silver ceased on June 24, 1968. Paper currency is still valid legal tender without the Silver Certificate, instead being backed simply by the strength of the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. treasury, "The notes have no value for themselves, but for what they will buy. In another sense, because they are legal tender, Federal Reserve notes are 'backed' by all the goods and services in the economy