The September 2021 issue of Nena News from the New England Numismatic Association has a nice article by C. John Ferreri on a topic we've discussed earlier - the interesting scrip notes issued by S.W. Chubbuck. With permission, we're republishing it here. Thanks!
S.W. Chubbuck was a manufacturer and dealer of telegraphic
equipment in Utica, N.Y. Samuel F. B. Morse was the inventor of
the code used in transmitting telegraphic messages. He also was
a keen admirer of the music of Ludwig von Beethoven, especially
the 5th Symphony. Like many other issuers of merchant scrip the
Chubbuck company customized some of its notes to give them
some personality of their own One of the notes Chubbuck issued
actually had the Latin alphabet displayed and the equivalent code
markers (Morse Alphabet) for each letter printed underneath. The
note shown here was payable in U.S. Postage Currency (early issues
of U.S. Fractional Currency). Mr. Chubbuck also issued copper
tokens with the Morse Alphabet and Numerals showing.
The scrip shown above was printed and issued by this merchant for the reason of facilitating the making of change for
his customers in the Chubbuck store. During the first half of the 19th century there were times when hard money became
scarce due to economic hard times. People tended to hoard metallic
coins, especially silver and gold and not use them as was intended
and this hindered commerce. To fill the void many merchants and
municipalities actually issued their own small denomination paper
change. There were few state laws setting standards or guidelines
regarding their distribution. For the most part that was okay and
instances of fraud were few. The merchants of the New England and
other eastern states were mostly careful and honest businessmen.
Most merchant scrip appeared as typeset and plain as can
be paper notes issued in fractions of a dollar and redeemable in
amounts equaling whole dollars. Often the merchant would have a
design printed on these small bills denoting the type of business he
was engaged in. A seller of sewing machines could have the image
of a sewing machine; a shoe smith could have an image of a shoe or
boot, etc. So, it came to be that Mr. Chubbuck the purveyor of telegraphic equipment had the Morse Code displayed on this issue of
his scrip. The Morse code was the communication vehicle that was
transmitted by telegraph. Maybe he thought he should be touting
that fact by educating local residents who might not know.
Beethoven wrote his 5th Symphony 30 years before there was a
telegraph but Morse found a way to remember him within his code
markers. For the letter
V in his code he designated, the markers,
dit, dit, dit, dah so every time a letter
V (the Roman equivalent
for the number
5) was telegraphed, the code was translated into
the four coded sounds that were the opening of Beethoven’s 5th
Symphony! If you enunciate the four coded sounds you will hear
what I mean, the opening notes of the 5th Symphony! (So, who
thinks collecting obsolete paper money is boring?) Was this all a
coincidence or done by design? Unfortunately, S.F. B. Morse is not
available to give us the answer!
Many unusual anecdotes such as this come to light when collecting old paper money. To learn more about incidences like this visit
the Currency Club of New England. It meets in Waltham once a
month. Detailed information appears in the club listings toward the
back of this booklet. Come visit with us! Tell us your story!
Chubbuck copper token images were taken from the Internet.
For more information on the New England Numismatic Association, see:
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
MORSE CODE ON MONEY
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: MAY 19, 2013 : Morse Code on S.W. Chubbuck Tokens
MORE ON S. W. CHUBBUCK
SAMUEL WINCHESTER CHUBBUCK (1799-1875)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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