Ohio, 5 Dollars, Kirtland Safety Society Bank, 1837

Description
The Kirtland Safety Society Bank of Kirtland, Ohio, issued this five dollar note on February 10, 1837. The note’s plates are printed by Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty of Philadelphia. The note is decorated with a central motif of a man seated on a log with a dog. The identical end panels depict a young boy with a shovel over his shoulder. The note is signed by the bank’s cashier, Joseph Smith, and its president, Samuel Rigdon.
The Kirtland Safety Society Bank was formed by Joseph Smith and other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on November 2, 1836. The bank’s constitution established the capital stock of four million dollars, a severe overextension of the available specie in the area. With the closing of the Second Bank of the United States in 1836, many states allowed “free banking,” however, Ohio still required banks to be granted a charter from the state legislature. When Ohio’s legislature declined a charter for Kirtland, the officers formed their own “anti” bank. Like many banks at the time, the Kirtland Safety Society Bank failed spectacularly in the general financial crisis of 1837.
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.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
paper money
date made
1837-02-10
issuing authority
Kirtland Safety Society Bank
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
place made
United States: Ohio, Kirtland
ID Number
1992.0281.1635
accession number
1992.0281
serial number
770
catalog number
1992.0281.1635
subject
Coins, Currency and Medals
American Enterprise
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Schlein, Richard S.

Visitor Comments

2/11/2016 5:12:48 PM
JMyra Wetzel
Thanks for the article, It explains the use of the money which I questioned it being legal.
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