Prior to its annexation as the 28th state by the United States, The Republic of Texas was its own sovereign nation. Having fought for and gaining their independence from Mexico by 1836, the young republic found itself with significant financial/economic and political issues, leading to their eventual annexation in 1845. These nine tumultuous years in-between originated some of Texas’s rarest and most sought after currency.
The Panic of 1837 halted commerce to a standstill, sending Texas’s land prices and the value of its paper currency on a downward spiral. Texas treasury bills and promissory notes became so debased that they were trading at cents on the dollar, and in many instances, not accepted by merchants. Even the Texas government refused to accept its own paper money for payment on land taxes. Due to these significant financial woes, the Texan people re-elected Sam Houston for a second term with the hopes of salvaging their country.
On January 19, 1842, lawmakers passed an act creating the last currency issued by the Republic, the famous “Exchequer” series. Along with gold and silver, these notes were accepted at full face value for tax payments and the fulfillment of government debts. Between 1842-1843, the total production of circulating notes amounted to $150,490 in all denominations up to $100. With no new notes being printed, all but $13,208.29 of exchequer bills had been redeemed by 1852. These notes were closely controlled and diligently destroyed by the government when redeemed. The majority of outstanding “Exchequer” notes have likely been lost to time as current records estimate a total of 20-25 extant in all denominations in public and private hands. There are no known examples of $2, $3, $10, $20, $50, and $100. The 12 ½ cent note is most commonly seen in the series today because, as James Bevill states in The Paper Republic, they “may not have been worthwhile to be redeemed for full face value and some were set aside and saved.”
Skinner’s August Coins & Currency auction features a newly discovered 1843 12 ½ cent “Exchequer” note. This note features vignettes of an early steam locomotive and lady Liberty. This original, unadulterated bill exhibits bold design elements and crisp details. Authenticated and graded a Very Fine 25 by PCGS Currency, the note exhibits minor edge damage and a small tear to the central fold. The bill bears two signatures, that of James B. Shaw, Secretary of the Treasury, and the iconic general and first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston. This auction presents a rare opportunity for any collector of Texana and early Texas currency as the last 12 ½ cent note, or any other denomination of “Exchequer” notes to come up for auction, was in 2011.
Auction previews open on Tuesday, August 22 from 12-5PM and continue on Wednesday, August 23 from 12-8PM.