By Neil Shafer
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit the state of Utah very hard, causing social and economic upheavals all over the state. One effort in trying to assist the population came in the form of money substitute scrip issued by the Mormon Church in 1933. It was called Guaranteed Emergency Certificate; each was hand signed by a bishop from one of Salt Lake City’s wards. Text included a statement as to the exact status of the issuer near the top. Also spelled out was the method of redemption (pun intended), which consisted of the affixing of 52 special stamps costing two cents to spaces provided on the back. When the back had all spaces filled, the note could be paid out for its face value.
Smaller text is more intriguing: “Each person exchanging this certificate for services or merchandise must place a Guaranteed Emergency Stamp on the back and cancel it in ink with his initials and with the date of transaction. A stamp must be attached not later than seven (7) days after date of the last previous cancellation. Postage stamps or stamps other than those issued by the Stakes mentioned above will not be accepted.” These statements are followed by six printed signatures.
Money substitutes, such as this piece and a host of others, served the public by providing a circulating medium when banks all over were closed. The stamp scrip idea was used in many areas around the country. At times it worked well, but at other times it was not so successful. Apparently it was accepted well enough in Salt Lake City as evidenced by the stamps covering the entire back of this certificate.
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