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Rarities from UP Michigan Bank
By Lawrence "Larry" Falater, Bank Note Reporter
May 02, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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The city of Houghton, Mich., is located in the far northern portion of the copper country of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. At the time of the founding of this bank, the community was only a village and one of only five locations to issue First Charter National Bank Notes.

During this era there were 50 First Charter banks in the Lower Peninsula, so the desirability of Upper Peninsula (frequently referred to as UP) notes is obvious.

NBN collectors are familiar with the data created by Louis “Bill” Van Belkum, which was extracted from the government records almost 50 years ago. Here is a summary of the information for charter 1247 from that source:

The First National Bank of Houghton
Chartered on June 9, 1865 with a capital of $16,000.
Placed in voluntary liquidation on April 18, 1885; capital $100,000
Succeeded by No. 3334

Circulation Issued:

First Charter Original Series
1-1-1-2 plate = $32,000 worth; serials 1 to 6400
5-5-5-5 plate = $85,000 worth; serials 1 to 4250
10-10-10-20 plate = $142,000 worth; serials 1 to 2840

First Charter Series of 1875
1-1-1-2 plate = $5,000 worth; serials 1 to 1000
5-5-5-5 plate = $44,100 worth; serials 1 to 2205
10-10-10-20 plate = $33, 400 worth; serials 1 to 668

Total amount of circulation issued = $341,500
Amount outstanding at close = $45,000
Amount outstanding in 1910 = $3,106.


Images from top:

This stock certificate from the First National Bank of Houghton is the only one known from any of the five First Charter period banks from the Upper Peninsula. It bears the state seal of Michigan as well as the capital building in Washington, D.C. A vignette titled “revenue stamp” to the right was originally designed for a U.S. revenue adhesive stamp to be affixed, which was a form of taxation to finance the Civil War, required at the time the certificate was engraved.

Detail of a portion of the certificate showing an interesting series of changes in the capital structure of the bank. Originally capitalized at $160,000 (a rather large amount), with a dramatic reduction to $50,000, which was printed below and a further change to $100,000 (rubber stamped between the two printed numbers). The extraordinary amount of changes were all accomplished with a period between June 1865 and March 1882.

A beautiful Series of 1875 $5 note from the First National Bank of Houghton is illustrated. It has vivid signatures of James Sturges, cashier, and Z.W. Wright, president. The note is one of the highest grade First Charter (Original Series or Series of 1875) notes known from any of the five Upper Peninsula national banks.

]A check of the period signed by the same Z.W. Wright rounds out this collection from the bank.


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