Promises To Pay

What the notes promised the bearer

Obsolete notes were often issued in times of scarcity of specie (coins), and not always by the most scrupulous institutions.  Exchanging the notes was sometimes difficult.  The following is a selection of inscriptions from different notes, and the promises they make to the bearer.  These inscriptions are all from notes depicting Spanish coins, but they pertain to all kinds of obsolete notes.

Pay twelve & a half cents to (name) or Bearer in Notes of the Bank of the State of Alabama or Branches when our Checks to the amount of five dollars are presented.  --Bank of the State of Alabama

This is a fairly common kind of promise to pay.  Its features are that the notes are payable only when accumulated to an amount of five dollars, and then only in the bank's notes.  The promise often simply refers to "current notes."

The Mystic Bank will pay two dollars on demand to the bearer.  --The Mystic Bank (Connecticut)

This is a demand note. Is it payable in specie or notes?

This certifies that (name) has deposited one dollar with this Association bearing four percent Interest after Thirty days notice payable to bearer of this Scrip in current Bank Bills.  --Mechanics' Savings & Loan (Georgia)

This is a certificate of deposit.

Pay (name) or bearer Fifty Cents for the Shelby & Detroit Rail Road Compy.  --The Bank of Utica Bank (Michigan)

This note is actually a check from the RR company.

This is to certify there is due to the bearer from the Mayor & Common Council of the City of Newark the sum of twelve & a half Cents bearing interest at the rate of one per cent per annum payable June 1st, 1838 being part of a Loan of 20,000 dollars authorized by an ordinance passed May 19th, 1837.  City of Newark. June 1st, 1837. --Mayor & Common Council of the City of Newark (New Jersey)

This is actually a municipal bond

Pay twenty five cents to (name) for value received. --The Mad River and Lake Erie Rail Road Co (Ohio)

What value?

Spanish Bust Coin To the Spanish Coins on American Notes home page 

Last Updated: June 10, 1997
Suggestions to: Bob Schreiner