Almost 1,000 national bank notes from the DeGolyer Library’s Rowe-Barr Collection of Texas Currency at Southern Methodist University (SMU) are now available online. The largest known collection of paper currency specific to Texas, the Rowe-Barr Collection was assembled and donated to SMU’s DeGolyer Library by John N. Rowe III and B.B. Barr, brothers-in-law, business partners and avid numismatists with differing collecting interests.
Rowe’s portion of the collection comprises nearly 1,500 examples of obsolete and canceled Texas currency produced from the 1830s to the end of the U.S. Civil War. Barr’s contribution consists of national bank notes dating from Reconstruction to the Great Depression.
The collection offers an interesting glimpse of life in Texas from the early days of its independence from Mexico through the years of the Great Depression. Issued by more than 100 counties, as well as banks, merchants and private individuals, these notes were most often redeemable for cash, but sometimes for land or shares of stock.
Many of the currency notes help to identify the issuing organizations that would otherwise be lost to history. In addition, currency notes are often beautiful objects in themselves and can be studied as examples of the art of engraving and printing. The imagery associated with the notes—from classical goddesses to bison to railroads to cotton bolls—tells us something about the culture and its aspirations and ideals.
The metadata, or information for each currency note, included on the website captures important features of each item. The notes are searchable by decade, county of origin, town of issue, bank issuer and denomination, as well as by individual keywords.
The “TexTreasures” digitization project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and Texas State Library and Archives Commission (2019). Click here to view the collection.
Pictured above: This 1840 land scrip is a certificate entitling James Pinckney Henderson, the first governor of the State of Texas, to $250 worth of lots in the Town of Louisville. The Town of Louisville was a project of the Texan empresario Almanzon Huston, quartermaster general of the Texas Army.
Published in Bankers Digest September 2, 2019