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Location of companies printing counterfeit notes

El Paso

San Antonio

In August 1914 private detectives traced a large part of the bogus money to San Antonio, where it is thought that it was being printed from cleverly made plates which were almost an exact duplicate of the one from which the genuine notes were printed. There were only a few differences: an eight leafed daisy appeared in the upper corners of the counterfeit notes which was missing in the genuine and the seal of the genuine notes was a fraction of an inch larger than on the face of the bad notesEl Paso Herald, 5 August 1914, so these were the Ejército Constitucionalista issue. A press for printing counterfeit Carranza money was discovered and seized in San Antonio in June 1915El Paso Herald, 24 June 1915. In November Luis Padilla, private secretary of the Ministro de Hacienda, visited San Antonio to discuss a group of counterfeiters who had been arrested there. Sheriff John W. Tobin showed him the litographic plates and enormous quantity of notes that he had collected some months beforePrensa, 30 November 1915.

Fort Worth

Los Angeles

In October 1914 it was reported that both Villa and Carranza money was being extensively counterfeited in Los Angeles and shipped to El Paso to be put into circulation. The notes were said to be of much better workmanship than any counterfeits yet seen and to almost defy detectionEl Paso Herald, 15 October 1914.


Kansas City

At the beginning of October 1914 an American approached F. D. Crabbs, president of the Union Bank Note Company, of Kansas City, with an order for 1,500,000 pesos in denominations of five, ten and twenty pesos. The American said that he represented a group whose properties had been confiscated by Villa and who wanted to recoup their losses by buying cattle or bullion with the counterfeit money and then reselling in the United States. Crabbs said that the original Villa currency they were to copy had been printed by a lithographing company in Denverpossibly Smith-Brooks. “The script was just the size of our money, with much ornamental engraving. It looked something like United States banknotes, except that the paper was without the silk threads. It bore a picture of the late Francisco Madero”. However, on advice from Washington, the company turned the order down. “The government reported that it would be no violation of any law to print the money, although there was a possibility that all parties concerned would be liable if the mails were used.”Kansas City Star, 31 October 1914; Prensa, 3 November 1914. Apparently, two other printers also turned down the jobKansas City Star, 24 April 1915.
However, on December 22, two Mexicans, who represented themselves to be agents of General Villa, but who were in reality accomplices of the original "ranchman", obtained the printing of two million pesos of counterfeit Villa paper money by another establishment in Kansas City. Again the report stated that the original currency had been printed in Denver, but this time, from the description they were obviously counterfeit Gobierno Provisional de México notes. “The counterfeit money was issued in 50-pesos paper notes. Across the backs of each bill was printed “Provisional Government of Mexico, Mexico, October 20, 1914.” On both lower corners of the face of these bills were printed “Series E.” The counterfeit bills are exact reproductions of the original Villa money of that denomination both as to the texture of the paper used and the lithographing”Kansas City Star, 24 April 1915.


On 20 January 1915 George C. Carothers, the U.S. special envoy, via Zachary Cobb, the Collector of Customs at El Paso, telegraphed the Secretary of State that Villa had received information that the Columbia Bank Note Company of Chicago had accepted an order for three million pesos in notes imitating the Chihuahua issue. Those placing the order had claimed authority from Villa but Villa stated that he had given no such authority and requested the Americans’ assistance in stopping deliverySD papers, 812.00/14272. The State Department contacted the Columbia Bank Note Company on 26 January, asking for information about who had ordered the notes, when and to whom they were to be delivered, and any other particularsSD papers, 812.5158/16 and received a reply the same day that the company had received no such order and had no information about it. The news was relayed back to Carothers via CobbSD papers, 812.5158/17. Of course, the printers could have been lying.

Villa mentions the Columbia Bank Note Company in a letter he wrote in May 1915 to Lazaro de la Garza in response to one from de la GarzaLG papers, 1-J-10 Villa, Aguascalientes, to de la Garza, El Paso, 1 May 1915 in reply to 1-J-9 but it is obvious from the context that he meant the Norris Peters Company.