Issues of the American mining companies of Guanajuato

On 2 August 1914 representatives of three American mining companies met with the Constitutionalist commander, General Jesús Carranza, to discuss the lack of currency in circulation, which threatened to paralyse their operations, and received permission to issue their own vales as a short-term expediency. The next day, having gained the support of local shopkeepers, they sent Carranza a proof, stating that the notes would resemble banknotes, be printed on high quality paper and have a photogravure that would be impossible to counterfeit locally. These three principal companies would issue the notes and in turn make them available to smaller companiesCEHM, Fondo XXI Venustiano Carranza, carpeta 12, legajo 1196.

The same day General Carranza authorised the companies to issue bonos in eight denominations (5c, 10c, 25c, 50c, $1, $2, $5 and $10) up to a total value of $200,000, in order to pay their workers. The notes would be exchanged for Constitutionalist currency, banknotes, silver or gold as soon as communications were re- established with Mexico CityCEHM, Fondo XXI Venustiano Carranza, carpeta 12, legajo 1200.

The next day H. C. Field, the Superintendent General of the Guanajuato Development Company, wrote to ask whether the authorization could be modified so that each of the companies separately received permission to issue $65,000 in vales and be responsible for the notes it issued. Carranza agreed and so issued three separate authorisations. The wording was changed slightly, so that now, to avoid counterfeiting, the $1, $2, $5 and $10 notes had to carry the autographed signature of the company’s manager, cashier or representative, and the lower values some security device (cliché ó contraseña) that could not be imitated in GuanajuatoCEHM, Fondo XXI Venustiano Carranza, carpeta 12, legajo 1204.

The notes were a temporary measure and on 28 October the companies issued a notice that they were to be redeemed in their respective offices, giving people five days in which to hand in any notesCrispín Espinosa, Efemérides Guanajuatenses.

By 1 November some public offices and shops had begun to refuse the notes. The local newspaper, El Observador, said that it realized that the were not of forced circulation, but they had been issued with the approval of businesses and the public and did state that the companies would redeem with legal tender as soon as business communications were restored with the capital of the Republic. The paper was aware of poor people who had not been able to buy necessities, and speculators who were buying the notes at less than face value. It called upon the authorities to actEl Observador, Guanajuato, Año XI, Núm. 895, 1 November 1914.

April 1915

In April 1915 the mining companies in Guanajuato asked Obregón for money with which to make their payroll of around $50,000 a weekCEHM, Fondo XXI-4 telegram Obregón to Venustiano Carranza, 30 April 1915. Carranza replied that the new Jefe de Hacienda would bring enough funds but in the meantime Obregón could authorise the companies to issue vales which would be withdrawn as soon as the legal tender arrivedCEHM, Fondo XXI-4, 30 April 1915. The next day Carranza told Obregón that he could authorise commercial houses and mining companies (casas comerciales y negociaciones mineras) to issue small value notes (obligaciones provisionales de pequeño valor) after depositing a sum in guarantee in some public officeCEHM, Fondo XXI-4, telegram 1 May 1915.

Were any such temporary issues made?