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When banks were local

Lake Okoboji is a summer outdoor destination in northwest Iowa, but it is also a summer numismatic destination.

The Higgins Museum is located there.

Its focus is National Bank Notes, particularly of the state of Iowa.

A seminar with five speakers has been scheduled for July 28.

The event will commence at 8 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m.

Speaking first will be Wendell Wolka. His talk is entitled “National Bank Notes: McCulloch’s Early Insights.”

Lee Loftus will speak about “National Banking Inside the Treasury.

Frank Potter will tell the story of “The First National Bank of Harlan, Iowa (Charter No. 5207); The Family Story.”

Mark Hotz, who writes a popular column for Bank Note Reporter called “Hotz Off the Press,” will give a talk called “Interesting National Bank Note Collection Insights.”

Peter Huntoon will cover the topic “Building Great Arizona and Wyoming National Collections.

Suitable breaks and a lunch hour punctuate the schedule and the day will conclude with a round table discussion by the speakers and the seminar attendees.

Registration fee is $75. It is a cheaper $65 for individuals who are members of the seminar-sponsoring organizations: the Central States Numismatic Society, Society of Paper Money Collectors and the Professional Currency Dealers Association.

Send the fee to the Higgins Museum, 1507 Sanborn Ave., P.O. Box 258, Okoboji, IA 51355.

Questions may be directed to museum curator Larry Adams. His telephone number is (712) 332-5859.

His email address is

There are four hotels within a mile of the museum.

AmericInn Lodge can be contacted at (800) 634-3444 to make a reservation.

Arrowood Resort is (800) 727-4561.

Vintage Block Motel is (712) 332-8040.

Bridges Bay Resort is (800) 727-4561.

A welcome reception will be held at the museum from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. July 27.

In the phrase that the late John Hickman used, the museum celebrates the era of Hometown Banking.

National Banks had the right to issue paper money in the form of National Bank Notes from 1863 to 1935.

These notes literally were issued by hometown banks across America, but they were backed by Treasury bonds bought by those banks.

These notes featured standard designs across the country, but the names of the issuing local banks were prominently featured.

Signatures of the local bank officers also appeared on the notes.

National Bank Notes were invented as a means of financing the Civil War, but after the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the usefulness of this system of note issue to the federal government declined.