No. 1 Alaska Territorial Found|
July 05, 2013
Feast your eyes on this No. 1 blockbuster Brown Back from Alaska Territory. Territorials just can’t get any better than this. This fantastic note was given its coming out party by Andrew Shiva at the Memphis International Paper Money Show. To say it was a show stopper is a gross understatement.
It is, of course, the discovery Alaska Brown Back.
Alaska Territorials occupy the pinnacle of the Territorial hierarchy because fewer of them are reported than from any other territory. Now there are two.
The other is my former $20 Series of 1882 Date Back in Fine condition.
They are the gatekeeper Territorials. Completeness is impossible without one.
To fully appreciate any Territory of Alaska note, you must realize that only 6,792 were issued between 1898-1918, and all came from the small Juneau bank. That’s 770 sheets of 1882 10-10-10-20 Brown Backs and 928 sheets of 1882 Date Backs.
Most of these notes were replacements for others that had worn out and been redeemed from circulation.
A total of 3,080 Brown Backs were issued, but the maximum reported circulation for the bank during the Brown Back era was $11,810 in 1908. Consequently only 945 of them were in circulation at the high water mark.
Acquisition of the Juneau Territorial lofted Andrew Shiva into the most rarified company possible among National Bank Note collectors. He is the second person in history to assemble a complete set of notes from every territory in the country.
The first was J.L. Irish, who accomplished the feat in 1981. Irish’s Alaska Territory note was, of course, the $20 Series of 1882 date back.
This wonderful note is signed by bank president William T. Summers and cashier Herman H. Eddy. Both relocated from Santa Barbara, Calif., to Juneau specifically with intent to organize the first national bank on Alaskan soil. The following from the Los Angeles Herald (Feb. 17, 1898), announced their departure:
“TO BANK AT JUNEAU
“THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK TO BE ESTABLISHED IN ALASKA
“Santa Barbara Capital Interested.
W. T. Summers, President, and H.H. Eddy, Cashier
“SANTA BARBARA, Feb. 16. - Two young bankers of this city, with the backing of a sufficient amount of Santa Barbara’s hardest cash, leave here this evening for Juneau, Alaska, where they will open the first national bank ever established on Alaskan soil. The president of the First National bank of Juneau will be W.T. Summers, and the cashier Herman H. Eddy. Both have established reputations in business circles here, and they have behind them the Santa Barbara County National bank, of which Mr. Summers has been for several years assistant cashier, and Mr. Eddy bookkeeper. Mr. Eddy’s father is W. M. Eddy, president of the Santa Barbara bank mentioned, and E.S. Sheffield, cashier of this institution, is an uncle of Mr. Summers.
“The Juneau bank will begin existence with a capital of $50,000, a large share of which is subscribed in this city.
“Mr. Summers visited Juneau last fall, and then decided to found the bank, which will soon be in operation.”
The bank was organized Feb. 15, 1898, chartered April 4 and opened Monday, April 18, in the Horseshoe Building (Alaska Mining Record, April 20, 1898). The initial bond deposit to secure their circulation was $12,500 on April 4, an amount that remained unchanged until Nov. 3, 1932 when it was raised to $50,000.
The first printing of 10-10-10-20 Series of 1882 Brown Backs was received at the Comptroller’s office on May 6, 1898, and consisted of sheets T248587-T248836, 1-250, with no regional letter. Three more printings of Brown Backs were received over the ensuing years as follows:
• Dec. 28, 1899 U718006-U718205 251-450 no regional letter
• Jan. 7, 1905 N57949-N58068 451-570 regional letter P
•April 22, 1907 U21885U-U22084U 571-770 regional letter P
The first shipment to the bank was sent May 6, 1898, and included sheets 1 through 221, amounting to $11,050.
Clement M. Summers replaced Herman Eddy as cashier shortly after the startup. Eddy thereafter served as assistant cashier in both the Juneau bank and Bank of Alaska, Skagway, in which the Summers also had an interest. Eddy then returned to The Santa Barbara County National Bank, charter 2456, where he served as assistant cashier (1900-1903), cashier (1903-1907), vice president (1908-1917), and eventually president.
The Summers brothers were born in Ottumwa, Iowa, William Thomas in 1867 and Clement M. in 1871. Both set their sights on careers in banking.
William went to Iowa State University and then on to California as the assistant cashier of The County National Bank of Santa Barbara before relocating to Juneau to organize The First National Bank.
Clement graduated from Princeton in 1895, returned to Ottumwa to study law, then moved in 1898 to Juneau to become the cashier of The First National Bank alongside his brother. He simultaneously served as vice president of the Bank of Alaska, Skagway, from 1900 to 1904 where he resided.
William relinquished the presidency of the Juneau bank to Clement in 1904, so Clement moved back to Juneau. William returned to California where he organized The Union National Bank of San Luis Obispo, charter 7877, in 1905. In 1910, he went on to organize The First National Bank of Paso Robles, charter 9844. He served as president of both institutions from their founding through 1915.
Cashier Stuart Garfield Holt was family as well. Clement Summers was married to his Holt’s sister, Harriet.
It is here that things get interesting. The Juneau bank was purchased by the Bradley mining interests in 1911. H. Shattuck and J.E. Beale, respectively took over as president and cashier in 1911, quickly followed by T. F. Kennedy and A. A. Gabbs in 1912.
All was not well with the bank’s books because during the first week of January 1911, Clement Summers and his brother-in-law Stuart Holt were indicted on charges of fraudulent banking by a Federal Grand Jury. This earned Clement a conviction and five year prison sentence, which he appealed all the way to the Supreme Court where the conviction was set aside on a technicality. The following appeared in the New York Times in 1913.
“Washington, Nov. 10. The prison sentence imposed upon C.H. Summers, President of the First National Bank of Juneau, Alaska for alleged misapplication of the bank=s money, was set aside to-day by the Supreme Court. Summers was found guilty of fifty-six separate offenses and was sentenced to five years on each, the sentences to run concurrently. The court held that only one count should have been included in the indictment.”
Clement relocated to Oregon in 1911 whereupon he became vice president and treasurer of the Ketchican Power Company, a manufacturer of lumber and mill products in Ashland. He died in 1919.
Alaska label problem
The big deal with Alaska in national bank notes is that the labels on the notes from the two large-size-issuing banks usually didn’t reflect the legal status of Alaska at the time the plates were made or when the notes were printed.
Officially, Alaska was a Judicial District from 1884 to 1906. In 1906 Congress gave it nominal Territory status. This was flanged up in 1912 with a second territorial organic act and that status held until 1957 when the place gained statehood.
The First National Bank of Juneau was the first national bank chartered in Alaska. The Series of 1882 plate made for the bank, a 10-10-10-20, carried a Territory label. The Series of 1902 10-10-10-20 plate made upon extension in 1918 simply says Alaska. Neither label was correct at the time they were made.
In contrast, the other large-size issuing bank, the First National Bank of Fairbanks, chartered in 1905, issued notes that are labeled District of Alaska. Alaska was a judicial district at the time the plate was made so that label is OK. However, the label on the Fairbanks plates wasn’t changed to Territory in 1906.
Precisely why did the Series of 1882 10-10-10-20 plate for Juneau come out reading Territory of Alaska? The answer is simple and unambiguous, and no blame can be leveled at anyone in the Federal government. The clerks in the Comptroller of the Currency’s office used the language provided by the Juneau bankers on their organization certificate. The Juneau bankers listed their location as “Territory of Alaska.”
Twenty years later, in 1918, when the Series of 1902 10-10-10-20 plate was ordered for the Juneau bank upon extension, the Comptroller’s clerks gave the bank a de facto title change by simply labeling the place Alaska. They should have used Territory of Alaska at that time, so they were culpable in mislabeling the 1902 plate.
What is a truly serious Territorial collector to do? If going for completeness in large-size notes is the answer, then you have to attempt to collect all three possibilities: territory, district and unspecified! Suddenly the Juneau bank is the key but it offers a virtually insurmountable challenge. There are plenty of Fairbanks district notes to go around, but not Juneau Territorials.
References cited and sources of data:
Alaska Mining Record, April 20, 1898, Juneau bank opens.
Alaska State Library, Juneau historical subject files,
http://library.alaska.gov/hist/hist_docs/docs/ms010/ms10_juneau_historical_subjects_files_B.pdf). Comptroller of the Currency, 1898-1910, Annual reports of the Comptroller of the Currency: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Comptroller of the Currency, 1863-1935, National currency and bond ledgers: Record Group 101, U. S. National Archives, College Park, MD.
Los Angeles Herald, Feb. 17, 1898, To bank at Juneau, p. 6.
The New York Times, Nov. 11, 1913, Juneau Banker’s sentence annulled.
The Princeton Alumni Weekly, May 7, 1919, Clement M. Summers death notice, p. 617.
United States Statutes, Organic acts pertaining to Alaska, May 17, 1884, 1906, Aug. 24, 1912, 1959: U. S. Government Printing Office.
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