Bond reconstruction

It was relatively common for printers to recycle unused uniface documents during the Civil War and the years leading up to it. This was especially true when printing bank notes Many obsolete bank notes, especially those from southern states, are known that show pieces of unused bonds, normally oriented 90 degrees to the later printing.

The scrip issued by Nacogdoches County, Texas is one such example.

Longtime contributor and friend Greg Alexander began collecting images of notes from Nacogdoches County in 2015, in an effort to discover what kind of certificate might have been recycled and re-printed. Greg has found, and photographically reconstructed around 20 pieces, enough to determine that the original recycled documents were bonds of The Eastern Texas Rail Road Company. Each bond probably yielded eighteen notes, in denominations of 25¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $3, and $5, all printed and dated in 1862.

At right is an uncut pair of 25¢ Nacogdoches County notes, payable in Confederate currency in amounts of twenty dollars. Visible through the thin paper is part of the top left of The Eastern Texas Rail Road Company bond. The text on the back of the original bond appears above the scrip proving that the bonds carried an 8% interest rate and should not be considered fully "uniface." There were five coupons printed on the bottom which suggest that the bonds had a very short, three-year term. The bonds had probably been printed in June, 1860 for intended issuance in July. A single 1861 stock certificate of the company has been recorded and shows the same general design as the reconstructed bond.

Below is Greg's photographic reconstruction of an original bond, with some minor hypothetical additions from scans of the backs of Nacogdoches County scrip. Texas dealer Jim Fitzgerald provided the impetus for the project and the Rowe-Barr Collection of Texas Currency at SMU's DeGolyer Library is the source for nearly half the images.

Recycling of bonds and other uniface (or nearly uniface) documents proves that shortages of decent quality paper were already apparent in the Civil War South as early as 1862 when the Nacogdoches County notes were printed. No complete Eastern Texas Rail Road bonds are known. The fact that the bonds were reused as scrip probably indicates that few investors were willing to speculate on bonds like this. After all, these bonds were meant to be issued in July, 1860, when heated debates over the expansion of slavery were raging and discussions of Southern secession were already being argued in public. Even an 8% interest rate might not have been sufficient for investors. Abraham Lincoln was elected President November 6 and South Carolina voted to secede from the Union six weeks later (December 20.)

Reconstruction of bond from Eastern Texas Railroad Co