5 Dollar Real Estate Banking Co. Note, 1839

The Real Estate Banking Company of Clinton in Hinds County, Mississippi, issued this five dollar bank note on January 25, 1839. The note was printed by the firm Draper, Toppan, Longacre & Company of Philadelphia, and features a central motif of two seated allegorical female figures. The left and right sides of the note are decorated with a cotton bush. Over the image of the figures, the text reads “On demand, five months after date.” The note is signed by the bank’s cashier, Joseph Davenport, and its president, Cowles Mead. The Real Estate Banking Company was one of the many banks that sprung up after the dissolution of the Second Bank of the United States, and like many of these banks it failed spectacularly within a few years. Cowles Mead served as a congressman from Georgia before becoming governor of the Mississippi Territory, where he was infamous for arresting Aaron Burr for treason after fleeing prosecution for killing Alexander Hamilton. When Mead’s bank failed, its cashier, Joseph Davenport, went to Philadelphia on the pretense of securing a loan to continue the bank’s operation, but never returned.
From 1790 to 1863, states and private banks issued their own currency to supply capital in a young nation without a national currency. This currency was backed by the hard money the banks had on deposit, and was only used locally where the bank and its operators were trusted in the community. However, banks often oversupplied notes, and this overextension caused bankruptcy among private and state banks when financial panic struck, particularly in 1837. Currencies from these failed banks are known as “obsolete bank notes” or “broken bank notes,” and several are held in the National Numismatics Collection.
Object Name
paper money
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 76 mm x 185 mm; 3 in x 7 9/32 in
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Coins, Currency and Medals
American Enterprise
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
The Library of Congress

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