Regading Wendell Wolka's question about "Furioso Plates",
Dave Bowers writes:
Some years ago when I was researching obsolete notes for my Encyclopedia of Obsolete Paper Money I delved into Waterman L. Ormsby at great length.
I don’t have the citation on hand, but his idea of creating custom full-face vignettes of different characters for different banks was called FURIOSO. One of my favorites of such is attached.
Thanks! Ormsby's Bank Note Engraving book has just been digitized by the Newman Numismatic Portal. I did search the text but came up empty on "Furioso". It could be that OCR isn't working well, or that the term came from another of Ormsby's publications. Let's be on the lookout
Thanks! Just did an article on Ormsby for The Numismatist. My take: while not an out and out crook, 2/3s of his customers were fraudulent concerns; a percentage higher than his peers. I conclude he didn't ask many questions or may have simply been the low cost supplier.
Dave added the following thoughts and images relating to Ormsby and the banknote frauds of his day. Thanks!
With regard to Ormsby being semi-fraudulent or questionable, nearly all of the other bank note companies asked no questions either. This seemed to be universal practice!!!
The matrix seems to have been people who approached Ormsby, ABNCo, or others stating they planned to get state charters. The bank note companies very obligingly printed whatever they asked for.
This was most endemic in the District of Columbia which had no oversight at all, except Congress, whose committees met erratically and often ignored requests for charter extensions from established banks.
As to Ormsby, he cast himself as a savior of the engraving industry. In my studies of him I have found him to be a man of high intellect. In his 1853 tell-all book he pointed out many abuses in the banknote engraving industry—creating enmity between him and the other firms. Although he was involved in fake labels for patent medicines (but whether he was aware is uncertain) and printed his share of notes for non-existent banks, I have found NOTHING to suggest that he was any more culpable than those who criticized him.
The poster example is Jacob Perkins who printed endless notes for the Farmers Exchange Bank of Gloucester, RI, and the Hillsborough Bank of Amherst, NH—in the same time that the frauds were widely reported in the papers!
Samuel Bell, president of the Hillsborough Bank in Amherst, was NEVER investigated or charged and later became GOVERNOR of New Hampshire! His official bio does not mention this connection (I am a trustee of the NH Historical Society).
As to Andrew Dexter, perpetrator of the Farmers Exchange Bank fraud, he was never prosecuted. He hopped, skipped, and jumped to the South, did well in real estate, and today Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama, leading to the State Capitol, is named in his honor.
Another Darwin Award goes to the perpetrators of the the Bank of New England of Fairmount, Maine fraud and their banknote company accomplice. There are two problems here: (1) There never was such a bank, and (2) there never was such a town in Maine. Fraudsters ordered about $500,000 face value of these bills from the highly esteemed Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, New York. Apparently, the firm did not make even a basic check on the standing of this bank! According to gadfly W.L. Ormsby, who had the nasty habit of pointing out frauds, these were “for the sole purpose of altering them to represent the issues of the New England Bank, Boston. The best are often deceived.”
Lots of fun for numismatists who collect these!
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: OCTOBER 30, 2016 : Furioso Plate
THE BOOK BAZARRE
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