Unique for the StateJacksonville, FL - $50 1882 Brown Back Fr. 511 The NB of Jacksonville Ch. # (S)3869
This is a truly magnificent note that, to your cataloguer at least, reigns as the key piece in this outstanding collection. It is the only $50 Brown Back known from the entire state of Florida, and is a major bank rarity as well, with the census showing just one other note extant from this Jacksonville institution which issued Brown Backs only before liquidating at the expiration of its charter in 1908. It is, as well, a note of major historical importance, bearing as it does the penned signature of W. B. Barnett as President, the same individual who gave his name to the Barnett National Bank, the powerhouse of Florida banking for decades after its founding. William Boyd Barnett, a Kansas banker and merchant, first traveled to Jacksonville in 1875, on a visit to his son Will, who had settled there the preceding year. Noting that his wife Sarah had enjoyed improved health during his Florida sojourn, William returned to his home in Hiawatha, Kansas, where he sold his business interests and, joined by his wife and youngest son Bion, moved to Jacksonville permanently in March of 1877. The timing of Barnett's move was not entirely propitious, with the nation in an economic downturn and Jacksonville itself a community lacking most amenities, including paved roads, electricity, city water, and sewers. Indeed, the poor sanitation contributed to periodic outbreaks of yellow fever, one of which erupted soon after the Barnett family reached town.
Jacksonville did have, however, three banks, probably too many for a community of well under 10,000 people. Undeterred, Barnett set up shop in May of 1877, and with a capital of $43,000 and a staff consisting of his 19 year old son Bion and one clerk, opened the Bank of Jacksonville. The early years were difficult, with the bank showing just over $11,000 in deposits by the end of 1877, but Barnett proved to be an astute banker and his sons, the second of whom joined the bank in 1880, congenial and open to new ideas. The bank's big break came that year, when Henry L'Engle, the tax collector for Duval County, complained to Bion about a $6.25 charge routinely assessed by another (and larger) Jacksonville bank to transfer local tax receipts to its New York correspondent bank. Bion quickly agreed to waive the charge, and the county's tax receipts were speedily transferred to the Bank of Jacksonville. Even more fortuitously, L'Engle was appointed Florida's state treasurer the next year, and subsequently moved the state's depository accounts to The Bank of Jacksonville as well, a move that began a long history of the Barnett family's involvement with state politics and government.
In early 1888 Barnett raised $150,000 in capital and applied for a national banking charter for his new venture, renaming the bank The National Bank of Jacksonville. The bank thrived, and, despite periodic crises, such as a disastrous freeze in 1895 which destroyed the state's citrus crop and a massive fire in 1901 which leveled every bank building in Jacksonville save for their own, prospered mightily as the city grew. William B. Barnett died in 1903, with Bion, who had actively managed the bank for years, promoted to President. When the bank's charter expired in 1908, the bank reorganized and received a new charter, taking the title The Barnett National Bank in honor of its founder.
This marks the first offering of any note from this bank at public sale. Just two pieces are known from this institution, with the other grading only a bare Very Good. It is ensconced in a major Florida holding which may never be sold, making this the sole example that might ever be available to the collecting public. Unique for type from the state, excessively rare for bank, and bearing the signature of one of Florida's greatest banking pioneers, this is a true trophy item that every Florida collector will want but only one can own. PMG Very Fine 30.
From The Sunshine State Collection.
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