Saturday, June 2, 2012

Antebellum check was child's play

As I continue to work with an old-time collection of stocks, bonds, checks and related collectible fiscal paper, I find items of special interest to me and feel compelled to subject you to them as well.

One such item is a pre-Civil War check that appears to have been repurposed as a child's plaything, perhaps to while away the hours on a rainy day in the Delta.

There is a lot of charm in this historic old check. It looks as if a child got ahold of, or was given, an unused check of the Rail Road and Banking Co., Grand Gulf, Miss.

The payee data and other details are written in pencil in a legible cursive script that would have made a 19th Century school marm proud.

Dated May 31, 1868, and signed by G.H. Calkins, the check directs the cashier of the "southern confdercy" to pay $500 to Evaline Calkins.

Cursory poking around on the internet didn't turn up much about the issuing entity, although it looks as if the railroad was operating as early as the 1830s. The 7-1/2" x 3-1/2" blank check is dated "18__" and has the look of an 1850s instrument.

The check was the work of Daper, Toppan, Longacre & Co., Philadelphia and New York. It is evident those Yankee engravers never saw a real alligator . . . if that's what the dragon-like creature on the riverfront vignette is supposed to be.

Even with multiple creasing throughout and a coupler of small areas of missing paper, the check sold for $36 on eBay in late May.

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