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‘Sensational’ discoveries in Knight sale

By Peter Huntoon

Lyn Knight will be offering two sensational national bank note discoveries that just came in from the cold in the upcoming PCDA auction held in conjunction with the PCDA National Currency & Coin Convention from March 1-3 in Rosemont, Ill.

These notes were so fresh, they weren’t in holders when I got a look at them.

 This $10 brown back discovery note on The Cochecho National Bank of Dover gives us at least one reported note from 77 of the 79 issuing banks in New Hampshire.

This $10 brown back discovery note on The Cochecho National Bank of Dover gives us at least one reported note from 77 of the 79 issuing banks in New Hampshire.

Cochecho National

The $10 brown back on The Cochecho National Bank of Dover, New Hampshire, is the discovery note for the bank, which was chartered April 29, 1865, and placed in receivership June 6, 1899, for fraudulent management in the form of excessive loans to its officers, directors and others.

By the time the receivership was closed on Sept. 30, 1901, the depositors had recouped all their money and no assessments had been levied against the shareholders so things were not as dire as they seemed two years earlier.

The bank had a modest circulation of $33,750 when it closed in 1899. Normal attrition of notes in circulation tended to be devastating, so it is no wonder that no notes had been reported from the bank until this find.

Adding to normal attrition through wear and tear, receiverships were bad news for the survival of notes because the National Bank Note Redemption Agency in the Treasurer’s office preferentially scavenged them from circulation as notes passed through that agency.

The note has everything going for it – acceptable grade for a rarity, excellent centering, strong penned signatures of president Jas. E. Lothrop and cashier Harrison Haley, and especially a great bank name. No one has been foolish enough to have doctored it either.

Cochecho is the original Colonial name applied to Dover; specifically, Cochecho Plantation in 1623. The plantation was purchased by English Puritans in 1633 and received many immigrants from Bristol, so they in turn renamed the place Bristol. According to Wikipedia, when the town was incorporated in 1637, it was renamed Dover by new governor Reverend George Burdett, possibly after a Robert Dover, an English lawyer who resisted Puritanism. There has to be a good story there!

The name Cochecho is a Native American word that is supposed to mean “rapid foaming water,” which refers to the waterfall in downtown Dover. The name was applied to the entire river. The river is tidal below the falls at Dover. From there, it flows southeastward where it joins the Salmon Falls River at the Maine border to form the Piscataqua River.

The Cochecho Falls provided hydropower to run a major textile mill that originated there in 1812. In time, huge brick factories dotted the downtown with one behemoth built right across the river immediately downstream of the falls. The mills closed in 1937.

Out of the 79 issuing banks in New Hampshire, only two remain with no unreported notes. Whenever such a note like this Dover is discovered, it is big news for collectors of that state.

 Sensational first reported $5 1902 date back from the Territory of Arizona.

Sensational first reported $5 1902 date back from the Territory of Arizona.

Globe, Arizona Territory

The $5 1902 date back just discovered from The Globe National Bank is huge news because it is the very first $5 1902 date back territorial reported from the Territory of Arizona.

Of the 27 issuing banks in Arizona, of which 18 issued territorials, only two issued territorial 1902 date back $5s. The First National Bank of Douglas used 2,583 sheets of them, whereas The Globe National got only 538 sheets.

Any time an Arizona territorial is discovered, it is news. This Globe is the 45th to arrive out of 365,494 that were issued, yielding a survival rate of 1 per 8,122 issued. Arizona territorials are under-represented in the grand scheme of things because the survival rate for all territorials now stands at 1 per 5,162 issued. Conditions were rough on notes in that territory.

Only one other note is reported from The Globe National Bank, a $20 red seal that I used to own that is higher grade but with fairly weak but readable blue rubber-stamped signatures. I like the strong stamped signatures on this $5 a lot better.

The Globe bank was a short-lived affair that lasted four years with a modest circulation of $50,000. It was organized April 12, 1906, chartered April 25, 1906, and liquidated Jan. 11, 1910, when it was merged with The First National Bank of Globe.

However, that is not the full story for the bank. Globe is a major copper mining town and the economy there took a significant hit during the Panic of 1907. The panic was triggered by a failed attempt in October by speculators to corner the market on the stock of the United Copper Company – not a Globe firm. This brought down the Knickerbocker Trust Company, New York’s third largest trust, and the price of copper fell through the floor. The contagion spread across the economy and country wherein the stock market fell 50 percent from the previous year high, liquidity vanished and banks across the country failed right and left.

Both the First National Bank of Globe and Globe National Bank suspended in the face of runs, the Globe National on Nov. 4, 1907, and First National on Nov. 21. Their fundamentals were sound, so both were restored to solvency. The larger and older First National was the first to stagger back to its feet on Feb. 29, 1908, followed by the Globe National on May 23.

There were five banks in Globe, which included three state banks. That was a bit too many for the times. The officers of the younger Globe National sold out to the First National in 1910. That liquidation came two years into the date back era, so it cut short the 1902 date back issues from the bank, thereby accounting for an issuance of only 538 5-5-5-5 and 400 10-10-10-20 sheets of them.

 Abijah G. Smith, signer of the Globe $5, as he looked in 1922, 12 years after the $5 note was sent to the bank from the Comptroller of the Currency’s office on Dec. 20, 1909.

Abijah G. Smith, signer of the Globe $5, as he looked in 1922, 12 years after the $5 note was sent to the bank from the Comptroller of the Currency’s office on Dec. 20, 1909.

The signers on the $5 are Patrick Rose, president, and Abijah G. Smith, cashier. I know nothing about Rose, who was late to that position at the bank, other than he is listed as a vice president of the bank in the July 1908 Bankers Register.

The founder of the bank and chief operations officer was Smith, who cut a wide swath through early Arizona banking. He came to Arizona in 1899 and was the architect and one of the principle organizers of The Gila Valley Bank, which eventually became The Valley National Bank of Phoenix (charter 14324). The Valley National Bank of Phoenix became the largest bank in Arizona, which gobbled up most of the surviving former note-issuing banks in the state after the close of the national bank note era.

Smith resigned from the Gila Valley Bank in 1906 to organize the Globe National. Later, he bought The First National Bank of Tombstone and served as its president before selling it to the Cochise County State Bank in 1926.

1902 Date Back Rarity

The date back era in national bank notes as defined by the Aldrich-Vreeland Act, which authorized the notes, ran from mid-1908 through mid-1915. For Arizona, the era was split in two by statehood on Feb. 14, 1912. A total of 104,284 1902 date back territorials was issued as contrasted to 144,840 state notes.

Survivors are decidedly scarce with 11 territorials and 10 state notes reported. Out of these 21 survivors, there is only one each of the territorial and state $5s! The $5 state note happens to be from The Prescott National Bank and as such was one of my most prized Arizona notes even though it graded G-VG.

The fact is, date back national bank notes are significantly under-appreciated by virtually every National Bank Note collector. This is especially true when it comes to the Series of 1902 date backs because they look so much like their common plain back successors.

The survival rate for all the 1902 date backs from Arizona currently stands at 1 for every 11,863 issued, whereas the survival rate for the 1902 plain backs stands at 1 for every 3,351 issued. This is a huge disparity and it holds across the country.

The elephant in the room was the normal turnover of the notes in circulation. The reality is that the entire circulation of the typical bank turned over about every three years. This means that if the bank had a circulation of $100,000, $100,000 worth of replacement notes had to be sent to it every three years to replace worn notes redeemed from circulation. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that when bankers pressed notes into circulation, it was the death knell for the notes.

Contrast the number of these three-year cleansing cycles that the 02DBs endured versus the far smaller number that the 02PBs experienced, and you can readily see that the chances for survival of date backs cratered. The 02DBs went out the door of the banks much earlier, which greatly reduced the probability that they would survive. The last of most of the date back issues went out between 1915 and 1917 versus the last of the plain backs in 1929.

I have been tracking census data for decades and long ago concluded that the true rarity of the date backs – either 82DBs or 02DBs—has always been greatly under-appreciated by collectors and dealers. Because 02DBs and 02PBs are blue seals, collectors and dealers don’t notice just how few of the blue seals that they handle are in fact date backs.

Besides age, another factor that adversely affected the survival rate of 02DBs was that the 1902 series already was seven years old when they came along, so the notes seemed stale – certainly nowhere near as flashy as the red seals that they were replacing. Consequently, the bankers didn’t save their number one 02DBs anywhere as fervently as they did the flashy new 02RSs when they came along. The 02DBs simply turned out to be workhorse currency that no one paid attention to, so people didn’t go out of their way to save specimens.

There was one consideration that moderated the survival of 02DBs, and that is that $50 and $100 date backs continued to be printed as late as 1925. Also, some pre-printed stocks of 02DBs, regardless of sheet combination, were so large in 1915, the Comptroller was still shipping the last of them to a few banks in 1929. Even so, these late printings and late issues don’t skew the picture very much.

Even though you may not be a candidate for this rare Globe note, maybe armed with some of the information above you can go back into your collection with an awakened appreciation of the 1882 and 1902 date backs that you find among your notes. They may not be very glamorous in comparison to brown backs or 1902 red seals, but you can bet that in terms of rarity, they rank right up there because their survival rate was among the lowest in all the National Bank Note series.

When I collected Arizona notes, I never let a date back get past me if there was any way possible to swing a deal. When I liquidated that holding, I didn’t have many of them. And, the fact is, those that I did have truly dressed up my holdings and, in the case of the 1882DBs, they gave my collection much needed color. After all, even the most diehard of us gets a bit jaded sifting through all those 1902PBs and 1929 notes that dominate our albums.

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

More Collecting Resources

• Order the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues to learn about circulating paper money from 14th century China to the mid 20th century.

• When it comes to specialized world paper money issues, nothing can top the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Specialized Issues .