Counterfeit Gobierno Provisional de México notes

No attempt to classify the Gobierno Provisional de México issues can ignore the fact there were countless counterfeits that could explain some of the differences. For instance, in late September 1915 newspapers in Mexico CityThe Mexican Herald, Año XXI, No. 7313, 28 September 1915 and VeracruzEl Pueblo, Veracruz, Año II, Tomo II, Núm. 353, 26 September 1915. Also published in Democracia, Zacatecas, Año I, Núm. 15, 15 December 1915 and Núm. 16, 16 December 1915 published an unsigned statement from the Currency Bureau of the Treasury Department at Veracruz that listed the characteristics of sixteen different examples of counterfeit Gobierno Provisional notes (also published in English). The result was something approaching financial panic, as it was generally assumed that this was a prelude to the government repudiating much of the paper money in issue. The American consul reported that he had been most reliably informed that the so-called counterfeit notes had been issued by the Constitutionalist government in Veracruz and that at least six different issues had been made showing considerable difference in the plates, inks, and paper with the preconceived idea that when the suitable moment came the government itself should repudiate at least five of such issues as counterfeit giving as a reason such apparent differences in the notes as they actually show upon comparisonSD papers, 812.515/59 telegram Parker, Mexico City to Secretary of State, 29 September 1915.

Three days later, the Jefe de Hacienda in Puebla, José Mayoral, published his own commentary on the list, this time emphasing the characteristics of genuine notes more than the counterfeits. Mayoral published another notice with the latest information on 23 November.

This list of characteristics (for the three $10 Veracruz, and the first two $20 Veracruz) was reprinted as late as April 1916 as the Carrancistas recovered territoryLas Noticias, León, Tomo I, Núm. 34, 1 April 1916, reproduced from Boletín Militar, Guadalajara, 26 March 1916.

From the notice of these sixteen different counterfeits (one $2 Veracruz, one $5 Veracruz, three $100 Veracruz, three $20 Veracruz, five $50 Mexico, two $100 Mexico and one $100 Veracruz on bluish paper) and various other references, as well as from notes that have been overprinted ‘FALSO’, I have drawn the following conclusions:
(1) few have a single distinguishable feature though frequently it is claimed that counterfeits can be detected at first sight from the poor quality of the print or paper. One supposed ‘smoking gun’ is a $100 Mexico with “S. S. ENCARGADO DE LA SECRETARIA” instead of “O. M. ENCARGADO DE LA SECRETARIA” (and “10 DE SEPTIEMBRE” instead of “19 DE SEPTIEMBRE”) but note that this ‘’counterfeit” is of extremely high quality. Also the counterfeiters corrected these errors in subsequent runs.
(2) often it is pointed out that the counterfeit has been produced from lithography and photoengravure rather than from a steel plate (but so were the Yecapixtla notes). However, other counterfeits are so well printed that they are virtually undetectable except to an expert.
(3) occasionally attention is drawn to the size or format of letters, such as “CONSTITUCION” and “MEXICO” on the shield or in the dateline.
(4) frequently mention is made of slight differences in the central vignette, such as the shape of the volcanoes or the foliage in the lake, or in the various ornamentation.
(5) the coin on the reverse is occasionally poorly delineated in the counterfeits, so that the inscriptions are harder to read.
(6) the Secretaría de Hacienda seal causes particular difficulty as it is printed rather than impressed and so does not rise off the page. Also the actual design of the seal, with its concentric rings, can indicate a counterfeit.
(7) the central design is either smaller (1mm in the $100, 2mm in the $20) or larger (2mm in the $10 and $20) than on the genuine notes.

In Coahuila in May 1916 the soldiers of Coronel Carlos Cardenas, among other atrocities, forced businesses to accept counterfeit Veracruz notes, even though they had been paid in infalsificables. When judge Andrés B. Bueno protested he was arrested. Coronel Jesús Gloria, Jefe de Armas in Monclova, ordered the judge’s release but Cardenas at first refused. The judge was made to resignAMonclova, Fondo Presidencia Municipal, Caja 414, Libro copiador de oficios, Pág. 495, Presidente Municipal Alberto Villarreal to Coronel F. Peraldi, C. M. de los D. de M. y R. Grande, Piedras Negras, 14 May 1916 and also to Governor, Saltillo, 14 May 1914; Fondo Revolución (1900-1921), Siglo XX, caja 2 and Fondo Presidencia Municipal, Caja 415, Libro copiador de oficios, Pág. 176, 15 May 1916 Alberto Villarreal, Monclova, to Governor.