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Unusual 10-10-10-10 Note Combination
By Peter Huntoon, Bank Note Reporter
September 03, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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Comptroller of the Currency William B. Ridgely sent a circular to national banks on July 23, 1906 advising the bankers that the 10-10-10-10 combination was being added to the available Series of 1882 and 1902 constellation of plates (Ridgely, 1906). Treasury officials were concerned that there were insufficient lower denomination notes in circulation so issuing more $10 National Bank Notes would help. The bankers were encouraged to order such a plate.

Most of the bankers who ordered a 10-10-10-10 plate did so when they organized their bank. As a result the combination became rather widely used beginning with Series of 1902 Red Seal issuers having charter numbers of 8311 and above. In contrast, bankers operating existing banks had little incentive to order the new combination, especially if they already were using a 10-10-10-20. The reason was simple. They had to pay for the new plate, which cost $75.

Regardless, a number of them did order the new combination. Quite a few went on to issue from both the 10-10-10-10 and 10-10-10-20 combinations.

The Series of 1882 was quite mature when the 10-10-10-10 came along in 1906. The only way Series of 1882 issuers could use one was to order it in addition to what they already were using.

Consequently there weren’t large numbers of 10-10-10-10 plates made in the series. As shown on Table 1 (see p. 32), a total of 28 banks ultimately used the combination. Twenty-four of them issued Brown Backs, 25 issued Date Backs but only four issued Value Backs.

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Most of these banks had medium to small 10-10-10-10 issuances. However, there were three that used over 100,000 sheets of a given type. The National Bank of Commerce in St. Louis issued 117,625 sheets of Brown Backs. The Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank of San Francisco and The National Shawmut Bank of Boston respectively issued 341,000 and 309,832 sheets of Date Backs.

The really interesting type was the 10-10-10-10 Value Back. Only 12 of the Series of 1882 issuers were still using the series when the Aldrich-Vreeland Act expired. The others had either liquidated or extended their charters by July 1, 1915.

Of the 12 banks that could have issued from 10-10-10-10 Value Back plates if the stars aligned correctly, only four actually did. The qualification that allowed a bank to receive them turned on a technicality. Only one of the four banks qualified. The other three were anomalies. Now things are getting interesting.

The following protocols were in place on July 1, 1915.

Existing stocks of preprinted one-sided sheets consisting of backs with dates were to continue to be used until they were consumed.

All “or other securities” face plates were to be left as was and used. Orders processed from July 1, 1915 forward printed from them were to be mated with the preprinted date back stock. Face printings from “or other securities” plates only could progress to Value Backs after the preprinted stock within a given plate combination was gone.

Printing orders involving new face plates without “or other securities” always were to be mated with new backs. Those printings were to be numbered with Treasury sheet serials in sequence within the on-going date back production.

The big joker with the Series of 1882 10-10-10-10 combination was that a huge inventory of pre-printed backs with dates was on hand when the Aldrich-Vreeland Act expired. It contained at least 96,200 sheets of them, probably more. The bureau never ran out of them so they continued to mate them with printings from “or other security” face plates until the series expired in 1922.

The only way a 10-10-10-10 Value back was supposed to have been produced was if a new face plate without “or other securities” was made for an issuing bank. This could happen only if the issuing bank underwent a title change or needed a replacement plate. None of the 10-10-10-10 issuers underwent a title change after July 1, 1915 while issuing the series, so no title change plates were made.

However, one bank, The Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank of San Francisco, required three 10-10-10-10 replacement plates after the Aldrich-Vreeland Act expired. The first was the EE-FF-GG-HH certified March 29, 1916. II-JJ-KK-LL and MM-NN-OO-PP followed respectively on Aug. 30, 1916 and March 20, 1917. Production from them faithfully was mated with Value Backs and the sheets were numbered in sequence with on-going date back production.

The other three banks that ended up issuing 10-10-10-10 Value Backs were The First National Bank of Chickasha, Okla., The City National Bank of Holyoke, Mass. and The Peoples National Bank of Lawrenceburgh, Ind. The face plates used for their printings were “or other securities” plates, so the printings should have been carried out on the old date back feed stock. The switch overs occurred respectively in March 1917, July 1917 and October 1921.

The timing of these three switches appears to have been random. They represent the only cases among all the sheet combinations in both the Series of 1882 and 1902 where the protocol to keep using preprinted date back stock was violated.

Consistent with protocol, the other eight 10-10-10-10 issuers with “or other securities” face plates never were switched to Value Backs. The last date back printing for the combination was for The Des Moines National Bank and bore serials B196581-B199580, 49751-52750. It was delivered to the Comptroller of the Currency on Sept. 13-16, 1921.

The September Des Moines printing was the second to the last printing from a 10-10-10-10 Series of 1882 face plate. The last was an order for The Peoples National Bank of Lawrenceburgh, Ind. That printing consisted of 1,000 sheets and carried serials B199581-B200580, 10876-11875. It was printed on value back instead of Date Backs stock. It arrived at the Comptroller’s office on Oct. 8, 1921.

This Lawrenceburgh printing was the most enigmatic of the three abnormal switches to value backs. Until it arrived, date back printings for the bank were coming along consistently at the rate of one or two per year right through July 1921. Why switch to Value Backs for this last printing just as the series was expiring?

Could it be possible that the last of the preprinted 10-10-10-10 Date Back feed stock happened to be depleted during the Des Moines printing? If so, the switch to value backs for the Lawrenceburgh printing honored protocol and there is nothing anomalous about it. Such an occurrence would certainly constitute a statistically improbable coincidence. We’ll never know. It’s your call if you want to believe this take on the situation.

The switch overs for the Holyoke and Chickasha banks came out of the blue in 1917, clearly in violation of protocol. We haven’t a clue why.


Comptroller of the Currency, 1863-1935, National Currency and Bond Ledgers: Record Group 101, U. S. National Archives, College Park, Md., Comptroller of the Currency, Dec. 25, 1915-Dec. 24, 1923, Schedules of Work to be Delivered, incomplete set: Record Group 101, (550/63/01/03-04 boxes 1-8), U. S. National Archives, College Park, Md. Ridgely, William B., July 23, 1906, Circular letter to the cashiers of national banks advising them of the availability of 10-10-10-10 plates (form 2116): Comptroller of the Currency, Washington, D.C.

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