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MENDOTA — At one time there wasn’t much paper money in circulation and the U.S. government came up with a way to change all that: they started printing their own in exchange for banks chartering with the U.S. Treasury Department.
Sonny Henry of Mendota recently ran across one of those old notes printed in 1929 on behalf of the National Bank of Triumph.
“The bank had to put up a bond to get them printed,” he said. “It worked the same everywhere — it was still 10 bucks. The Triumph bank note was backed by the bank.”
Everett Christopher started work as a teller in 1955, the year before the bank was robbed. He said the bank had sheets and sheets of $10 and $20 notes that had never been cut or circulated.
“We saw it as a souvenir but we never distributed it,” he said. “I was always going to play a joke on somebody and pull out these bills and scissors and start cutting to see what they would do like at a restaurant. But I never did.”
He was president of the bank when it merged with Union Bank in Streator sometime during the late 1970s or early 1980s.
“They took over and that’s when I left — they didn’t need me anymore,” he said. “I wondered whatever became of those. I guess somebody clipped them off and started peddling them.”
Henry has been dealing in coins and paper money since 1986. Now retired from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, he has turned his interest into a small business and will offer the note as part of an auction on Aug. 23.
The Triumph note is rare due to its high rating, he said. The printing is fairly well balanced, something he can check with a light and also with a special light box. A fellow collector, Tim Kyzivat of Chicago, consults with Henry on paper money. He said the bill also could be collectible since it was issued for the National Bank of Triumph.
Other collectors may look for certain signatures since some of the even earlier notes were hand-signed by the bank president and cashier.
By the time the Triumph notes were printed for the bank, signatures were part of the engraving plates so “Mr. Geo. Otterbach” and “Mr. Worsley” did not have to sign each note.
Tamara Abbey can be reached at (815) 539-5200 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @NT_Mendota.
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