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Credit bonds

by Nicholas Follansbee

(This and the following articles are a transcription of Nicholas Follansbee's seminal work " The Oaxaca "Credit Bonds" of 1915-1916" © 2004, with a few updates and changes in format to align with the rest of this website. In his work Mr. Follansbee in turn acknowledges the help of Robert Perigoe, Ray Wright, Ken Tabachnick, Ray. L. Aldrete, Crutchfield Williams, Elmer Powell, Bob Dunfield and Duane Douglas. Huston Pearson built on Follansbee and catalogued these notes in his "Notes of the Tesorería General of Oaxaca de Juárez" in the USMexNA journal September 1914).

In the autumn of 1914 after the Constitutionalist revolution defeated the dictatorship of General Victoriano Huerta, the victors split into rival factions dominated by Venustiano Carranza and Francisco Villa. Oaxaca resisted associating with either side and successfully repelled a Carrancista military force after a new round of civil war swept the country. During the siege which followed, Oaxaca produced its own coinage, stamps and paper money. The currency series that is the subject of this study was authorized by a decree dated 19 February 1915The governor José Inés Dávila’s decree of 19 February 1915 authorised the issue of up to a million pesos ($500,000 in $1 notes, $70,000 in $5 and $15,000 in $10)(El Demócrata, Veracruz, 26 February 1915; La Prensa, Año I, Tomo I, Núm. 22, 28 February 1915; La Prensa, Año I, Tomo I, Núm. 24, 2 March 1915) (renewed at various timesThe subsequent decrees were: decree núm. 5 of 10 July 1915, decree núm. 6 of 8 November 1915, and decree núm. 18 of 12 January 1916). These titulos de crédito or "credit bonds" were produced in five denominations: 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pesos. The 1 peso through 20 pesos notes were typographed at the Tipografia Artistica de Julian S. Soto in Oaxaca City while the 50 pesos was printed by the Tipografia de la Casa de Cuña, Oaxaca. The Soto facility had a limited number of presses, and they must have been monopolized almost continuously by the production, each note requiring several passes through a press. As shall be described in more detail, the notes were printed from multiple plates consisting of typesetting plus line blocks for a circular seal on the front and a portrait of Juárez on the back. They were produced almost certainly in pairs, the typesetting for the front and back comprising a single plate so that half the notes had the front printed first while the others had the back printed first. The designs are colourful and charmingly primitive, the inks inconsistent in hue and density, and the paper supply such that many different types had to be used, so there are a great many varieties. Some were intentional: changes in the date text, decree numbers, letters used to designate series. The frequent changing of the position of the treasury seal was also surely intended to compound the difficulties for anyone trying to produce a forgery. Other variations such as small typographical alterations may have been more accidental. Yet despite the complexity of the job and the circumstances in which it was carried out, there are surprisingly few major errors.

With so many varieties, literally hundreds known and surely more to be discovered, the "credit bonds" make an absorbing specialty. Some varieties appear to be quite rare, though only a few are actually expensive, at least in the present market. There are still plenty of unpicked hoards for collectors to go through. Nearly every collection or stock of Mexican Revolutionary currency will have at least a few of the lower denomination Oaxacas.