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Proof of the Month: Hancock signature

By Peter Huntoon

There was a national bank on practically every street corner in Boston prior to 1898 when a massive consolidation of its national banks occurred. There were 84 banks chartered in Boston during the national bank note era, but only six survived through the small note era. You will be forgiven if you don’t remember the names of all of them.

Hancock A

The bottom proof in the pair shown above is from The Hancock National Bank of Boston, charter 1442. It was named for Massachusetts favorite son John Hancock, the merchant, statesman, and prominent patriot of the American Revolution who served as president of the Second Continental Congress and as the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. His signature is the most flamboyant on the Declaration of Independence, so when you are asked to put your John Hancock on a document, the implication is for you sign.


Hmmm, you don’t have one of these notes in your collection and don’t recall that Boston title? Don’t be distraught; none were issued. The bankers at The Traders National Bank of Boston applied for a title change to The Hancock National Bank, which was approved by the Comptroller’s office Jan. 22, 1895. A 10-10-10-20 plate was made for them, but they liquidated May 20, 1897, and were succeeded by the Mercantile Trust Company, which in turn went into receivership on Apr. 4, 1902.

The officers of the renamed Hancock National didn’t receive any of their notes with the Hancock title before they liquidated.

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter. >> Subscribe today.

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