ANA Museum Showcase highlights major Louisiana numismatic items
Rare pieces include John Law notes, early paper money, presidential medals
The American Numismatic Association will present a stunning array of rare and historically significant Louisiana items as part of the Museum Showcase at the National Money ShowSM from May 9-11 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
"Our showcase is going to highlight the history of Louisiana and New Orleans with items seldom seen by the public," said Douglas Mudd, the ANA's Money Museum curator. "Some highlights include silver and bronze examples of the medal awarded to Zachary Taylor by the state of Louisiana following his victories in the Mexican-American War, and some extremely rare items related to the great Mississippi Bubble scandal of the 1720s."
The exhibits include items from the Haynie Family Historical Collection, the National World War II Museum, the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum and private collections.
John Law and the "Mississippi Bubble"
Louisiana's numismatic history began in 1716 when John Law was awarded an exclusive trade and mining charter in the French colony. Law consolidated several trade companies into the Mississippi Company, a joint-stock trading company responsible for promoting investment in Louisiana. After four years of rampant speculation based on paper currency, the "Mississippi bubble" burst, stunting Louisiana's growth for decades.
The exhibit will feature several examples of John Law notes, along with satirical medals and tokens related to the financial disaster. Items appear courtesy of the Haynie Family Historical Collection.
The exhibit will be complemented by the Money Talks lecture, "The Rise and Fall of John Law," by Erin M. Greenwald at 10 a.m. Friday, May 10, in Room 270.
Early Obsolete Notes of New Orleans
Soon after the Louisiana Purchase, banks were established in New Orleans. Beginning in 1805, the Bank of the United States opened a branch in the city, followed by the opening of the Banque de la Louisiane. As the nerve center for a vast trade network, New Orleans naturally became a major financial center as well.
Several more banks opened over the next decade and began to issue paper currency that was accepted along the length of the Mississippi and most southern ports, including the famous "Dix" $10 notes issued by the Citizen's Bank of Louisiana during the 1830s-60s. (Dix is the French word for ten). These notes became the source for the term "Dixie," used to describe the antebellum South.
Highlights of the exhibit include an 1829 $5 note from the New Orleans branch of the Bank of the United States and a bilingual $100 note issued by the Louisiana Bank, in addition to many other pieces from the ANA collection and the Haynie Family Historical Collection.
New Orleans and Paper Currency
From the 1790s, as increasing numbers of settlers reached the Mississippi, New Orleans became increasingly important as the gateway to the Midwest - its strategic location meant it controlled access to trade through the center of the continent from the Gulf to Canada and across a broad swath of territory encompassing the Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee river basins, to name just a few.
New Orleans-issued paper money became the standard currency of the Mississippi river basin and was accepted all along the great river and its tributaries. This exhibit features a vast array of New Orleans notes, beginning with a 1762 "Bon Pour" troop payment note from Fort Chartres.
New Orleans Scrip and Tokens
New Orleans was one of the few Southern cities to issue tokens as well as scrip - sometimes both by the same merchant. There were two main token and scrip issuing periods, during the "Hard Times" era of the 1830s and during the Civil War.
This exhibit includes a wide selection of different merchant tokens and scrip issued in New Orleans, courtesy of the Haynie Family Historical Collection. These items create interesting sleuthing opportunities when looking up the addresses on the scrip and tokens to see what exists today in the old locations.
The New Orleans Mint
The New Orleans Mint has the distinction of issuing coinage under three different government authorities, as well as being the only mint to have struck coins for the Confederacy. The showcase will feature a large selection of coins from the New Orleans mint, courtesy of Jeff Garrett and Mid-American Rare Coins.
The New Orleans Mint began production in 1838, creating gold and silver coins in large numbers from bullion imported from Latin America and the Caribbean. It operated until 1861 when it was taken over by the State of Louisiana in January and then turned over to the Confederate States of America. The New Orleans Mint ceased operations in May 1861 and reopened its doors in 1879, shutting down for good in 1909.
Greg Lambousy, Director of Collections for the Louisiana State Museum, will deliver his talk, "New Orleans Branch Mint," at 1 p.m. Friday, May 10.
Zachary Taylor Medals
The State of Louisiana presented President Zachary Taylor with a medal to honor his victories at Palo Alto, Monterrey, Buena Vista and Resaca de la Palma as a general during the Mexican-American War. The showcase will represent silver and bronze examples of the medal, courtesy of the Haynie Family Historical Collection.
Economics of a POW Camp
The New Orleans-based National World War II Museum will present a collection highlighting the economics of a POW camp with items from Oflag 64, a German POW camp near Szubin, Poland, which held about 1,500 American ground officers.
A YMCA Wartime Log journal kept by Maj. Newton Cole will be open to a page related to camp economics with a price list of items traded in the camp. About 20,000 journals were created by the YMCA and distributed to soldiers in Red Cross care packages. The National WWII Museum has several journals in its collection, and each gives insights into camp life. As Cole's journal shows, the main currency in Oflag 64 was cigarettes, particularly American cigarettes - and the exhibit will feature a variety of WWII-era smokes.
"Many soldiers credited the fact that they didn't smoke with saving their lives, because they could trade for food and other needed items," said Kim Guise, a curator with the National WWII Museum.
A short snorter from Oflag 64 and a WWII-era Jeep also will be on display.
Robert Jacques will present a related Money Talks lecture, "World War II Foreign Coins Made in U.S. Mints," at noon Friday, May 10, in Room 270.
The Museum Showcase will also feature the following rarities from the ANA's collection:
The Idler/Bebee Class III Specimen 1804 Dollar
The 1792 Half Disme
The McDermott/Bebee Specimen 1913 Liberty Head "V" Nickel
The ANA Museum Showcase at the New Orleans National Money Show is sponsored by Legend Numismatics and PCGS.
The New Orleans National Money Show features more than 500 numismatic dealers; a major auction by Stack's Bowers Galleries; the Collector Exhibits area; as well as educational presentations and seminars. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 9-10 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11. Admission is $6 for adults, and free for ANA members and children 12 and under. For more information, go to www.NationalMoneyShow.com .
The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 27,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.