Louisiana: January 1, 1720
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    Louisiana Currency

    In France in 1717 John Law organized the Compagnie de la Louisiana ou d'Occident (The Company for Louisiana or the West) to take advantage of opportunities in the Louisiana territory. This company was reorganized in 1719 as the Compagnie des Indies (The Company of the Indies) and in conjunction with the Banque Générale (The General Bank), which had been chartered on May 2, 1716, John Law started issuing indented handwritten notes. These notes were to be used for the development of Louisiana and were guaranteed by the king of France. The earliest issue was emitted from 1716-1717 with each note signed by John Law and his associates. Only two examples from this emission are know to survive, a 10 and a 50 ecus note, both dated June 10, 1718.

    A period of inflation soon ensued. In order to keep confidence in the bank during this time an edict was issued on December 4, 1718 transforming the bank from a private corporation into a government operation under the title of the Banque Royale (Royal Bank). Because of this change a second handwritten emission was issued to replace the ecu denominated notes in circulation. The new notes were denominated in 10, 100, 1,000 and 10,000 Livres Tournois and exist in examples dated from January 10, 1719 through September 2, 1720. There were also three later emissions, printed in typeset, issued on January 1, July 1 and September 2, 1720, for a total of 2,172,850 livres Tournois. After April 18, 1719 the notes were signed by deputies of the officers named on the bills and in the final two emissions the signatures were only printed.

    All four issues of the Banque Royal were on paper with the watermark "Billet de Banque" (banknote) and were impressed with the bank's seal. On the 1719 handwritten issue there is a geometric design on the indented left margin, while on the three typeset issues the indent reads: BANQUE ROYALE. The notes increase in size as the denomination increases.

    January 1, 1720

    The first of three typeset emissions of the Banque Royale. The notes were hand numbered with written signatures (added by the deputies of the officers named on the notes) except for the 10 livres note which had printed signatures. The backs were blank. Denominations in this issue were: 10, 100, 1,000 and 10,000 livres Tournois notes.


    100 Livres Tournois               Serial Number: 1,667,581               LA 01/01/20

    Signers: signatures of three deputies.

    Size: 103 x 166 mm.

    Comments: The text translates as: [Top line] One Hundred Tournois pounds.   [Main text] The Bank promises to pay the Bearer at sight One Hundred Tournois pounds in Silver Specie, value received At Paris the first of January one thousand seven hundred twenty.   [Signatures] Viewed (i.e. inspected) for Mr. Fenellon (signed by a deputy); Signed for Mr. Bourgeois (signed by a deputy); Controlled for Mr. Durevest (signed by a deputy). Jean Baptiste de Fénelon was the Inspector for the Bank, Étienne Bourgeois was the Treasurer and Durevest was the Comptroller.

    This note was impressed with the bank seal. The indent shows BAN from BANQUE ROYALE. The paper is watermarked with "Billet de Banque" (Banknote) in cursive script. This example shows the "e Banque     Billet de" (read in the same direction as the indent). There are also four chain lines visible in the paper. click here to view the blank back

    Provenance: Purchased through the Robert H. Gore, Jr. endowment from EAHA auction of August 22, 1998, lot 368, graded as choice crisp about uncirculated.