Garrett Ziss submitted these notes about an interesting book by a Treasury official on the Department's activities and
responsibilities, including the destruction of old banknotes. Thanks! -Editor
Reading the article on how the "U.S. Recycles Over 90% of Discarded Banknotes" reminded me of something I read in a book that was written
83 years ago. The book is entitled The Story of Uncle Sam's Money and was written by Walter O. Woods. He served as the Register of the
Treasury from 10/1/1927 to 1/17/1929, and Treasurer of the United States from 1/18/1929 to 5/31/1933.
Woods has been the only person who served in two different U.S. Treasury positions. He was very enthusiastic about his job and gave lectures about
the Treasury Department. These lectures were so popular, that Woods wrote his book in 1932. It detailed the Treasury Department's activities and
responsibilities. In the book, he describes what is done with the "mutilated, worn, and soiled currency". On page 123 he writes:
"The old bills, torn and defaced by constant use, are replaced by the United States Treasury. One method of destruction is by incineration.
Another method is to place the bills in macerators, huge cylinders into which chemicals are poured. These chemicals reduce the bills to pulp, which
is sold to dealers, who manufacture a number of articles from it, among which are fine imitation-leather bags."
I thought that this was an interesting example of the Treasury Department "going green" over 80 years ago.
Woods refers to small size notes as, "the new small-sized currency," because at the time, the Treasury Department was in the process of
switching over from large to small-size notes. When he was Register of the Treasury, he signed mainly large-size notes, and when he was Treasurer of
the United States, he signed mainly small-size notes.
There are two exceptions to this. The first is a Series 1928 $1 Silver Certificate Proof Essay (see attached) that Woods signed while he was
Register of the Treasury. The actual note was never printed. The second exception are some examples of 1902 Plain Back National Bank Notes that Woods
signed while he was Treasurer of the United States. The Silver Certificate Proof Essay image is courtesy of Paul Saylor, President of the Currency
Club of Chester County.
I don't think I have this book in my library. Maybe I should! Sounds like an authoritative source. I looked online and found
some more information, including a digital copy of the book. The topics include:
- Prejudice Against $2 Note
- The $10,000 Certificate
- National Bank Notes
- Obsolete and Emergency Currencies
To read the book online, see:
The story of Uncle Sam's money, by Walter O. Woods ...
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
U.S. RECYCLES OVER 90% OF DISCARDED BANKNOTES
THE BOOK BAZARRE
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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