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    Historic "Bon Pour" Bearer Scrip Payable in Current Money by Loisel in St. Louis-Newman Plate Note

    (Upper Louisiana) - Registre Loisel "Bon Scrip" for 3 Livres 10 Sols [to Bearer] Current Money St. Louis, June 1, 1803. PCGS Very Fine 25.
    In the Newman Collection were several examples of uniquely styled North American paper currency notes called "Bon scrip." The two examples cataloged in this sale and the three sold in Newman Part VIII on November 1, 2017 are the only examples ever sold at public auction to our knowledge. On page 163 of the 5th edition of Early Paper of America, Eric discusses private Bons as "an element in the circulating medium, particularly in the Missouri River fur trade. Bons were given to suppliers by fur trappers and traders to be paid on the return from an expedition. Some were promissory notes and others were bearer obligations." This is one of only five Bon scrip pieces from the Newman Collection. We are aware of no others offered in numismatic auctions, and these have been missing from numerous, important early American currency collections. Even the immense F.C.C. Boyd Collection, built upon the foundations of Haseltine, Chapman, Clarke, and Raymond holdings did not have one. These "Bons" have been in the Newman Collection for decades. Their direct tie to early fur trading in the region makes them more significant and hundreds of times rarer than the territorial engraved banknotes issued a dozen years later.

    The fur traders, so integral to the early development of St. Louis, were often French-Canadians, as was Registre Loisel, the issuer of this note. Loisel arrived in St. Louis in 1798 and then engaged in what would be a short-lived partnership with Pierre Chouteau and Jacques Clamorgan. Shortly after, he set up a trading post, located on an island in the Missouri River near what is now Bismarck, North Dakota. It was in that vicinity that he encountered Lewis and Clark, who wrote in their journal entry for May 25, 1804, "We set out early as usual, and enroute we met Mr. Regis Loisel, a St. Louis merchant, on his way down from Cedar Island. He gave us much information in regard to the Indians up river."

    Since Loisel did not specify any recipient on this note, we can infer that this is a "bearer" scrip. Hand accomplished in French for 3 livres 10 sols "current money," (deerskin or other furs) issued by and signed by Reg. Loisel. Laid paper, approx. 12.1 cm x 8.3 cm. The back with docketed "No.-12." This note's compact format made it convenient to carry and redeem later with Loisel. This is the Newman plate note, illustrated on page 165 of the 5th edition of the Newman reference. A gorgeous example, with handling folds as naturally seen on such hand-accomplished instruments. Full size, untrimmed and unfettered with its natural and as-emitted shape. The two similar small format, circulating Bons met with furious competition in the Newman Part VIII sale. This Loisel bearer-type "Bon" is one of the most important early North American currency pieces we have seen or cataloged.

    French Transcription:

    --Bon pour Trois livre dix sols
    --Argant Courant, St. Louis
    --Le 1er Juin 1803
    Reg. [Registre] Loisel


    --Good for three livres ten sols
    --Current money, St. Louis
    --June 1, 1803 Reg. [Registre] Loisel

    Docket Back:

    No. u 12 /u
    Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2018
    7th-10th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 850

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    Truth Seeker: The Life of Eric P. Newman (softcover)
    A powerful and intimidating dealer of the 1960s, backed by important colleagues, was accused of selling fraudulent gold coins and ingots to unsuspecting numismatists. Who would go up against a man like that and, over the course of decades, prove the fraud? Who would expose a widely respected scholar as a thief, then doggedly pursue recovery of coins that the scholar had stolen from an embarrassed numismatic organization, all over the objections of influential collectors who had bought coins with clouded titles? Eric P. Newman would - and did. Reserve your copy today.
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