El Banco Peninsular Mexicano

Fusion of the two Yucatán banks

During a boom at the beginning of the century both the Yucatán banks, irresponsibly and corruptly, extended credit to henequen growers. These growing abuses were detailed in both the local and Mexico City pressfor example, El Imparcial, Núm. 3905, 20 June 1907, but not before many henequeneros found themselves teetering on the brink of financial ruin. The easy money made available by banks was linked both to local casas exportadoras and foreign lenders. The Banco Yucateco, for instance, was firmly under the control of the Molina house, while the Banco Mercantil was tied to Eusebio Escalante e Hijo and this was of crucial significance, since a weakness in a major casa exportadora could undermine the fiscal well-being of the whole regional banking industry. Foreign lending institutions like the Credit Lyonnais were also vulnerable because of their indulgent investments in peninsular banks. As late as May 1906, French banks had lent three million pesos to the Banco Yucateco, an unwarranted show of confidence in a monocultural economy that was about to come apart.

Frequent speculations by henequeneros in peninsular joint stock companies (sociedades anonimas) further destabilized the regional economy. As the price of henequen continued to decline from 1904 to 1907, the artificially high prices of peninsular stocks could not be maintained. The bubble burst in 1907 and the first local casualty was the Escalante house.

Rumours of the collapse of Eusebio Escalante é Hijo had been circulating in Merida throughout the first months of 1907. The Escalante house was the oldest casa exportadora in Yucatan, and although it could no longer lay claim to dominance in henequen sales, its investments in the Yucatecan economy were still considerable. Like all casas, Escalante é Hijo served as creditor to a great number of hacendados: in some cases, it made cash advances; in others, it provided mortgages to planters. Finally, many wealthy businessmen and individuals in Merida and elsewhere had invested in the Escalante casa.

In a desperate but futile effort to avoid bankruptcy, Nicolas Escalante Peón went to Mexico City in May and June of 1907 to speak with Olegario Molina, Secretario de Fomento, Colonización y Industria, and Limantour, Secretario de Hacienda. What was at stake was more than just the failure of one of the largest henequen firms in the peninsula as the Yucatecan banks, especially the Banco Mercantil (the Escalante bank), were also in imminent danger of default. Limantour agreed to bail out the Yucatecan banks by authorizing the Banco Nacional de México to loan million pesos to the Banco Yucateco and the Banco Mercantil under certain unspecified conditions. Later in 1908, Limantour agreed to the fusion of the two weakened banks into one stronger institution, the Banco Peninsular MexicanoJoseph, Gilbert M., and Allen Wells. “Summer of Discontent: Economic Rivalry among Elite Factions during the Late Porfiriato in Yucatan.” Journal of Latin American Studies, vol. 18, no. 2, 1986, pp. 255–282.

As if the banks did not have enough problems, in January 1908 when Antonio Cáceres replaced Mateus Ponce as cajero of the Banco Yucateco it was discovered that the latter had defrauded the bank of $740,000, from a strongbox that contained notes from Mexico City that had not yet been put into circulationEl Tiempo, México, 9 January 1908. Although some culprits were arrested and convicted, the untimely robbery undermined the credibility of the already weakened regional banking industry and paved the way for the fusion of the two banks. The stolen notes were of the $50 and $100 denominations so the new bank gave holders 35 days until 31 December to hand in any notes for exchangeDiario Oficial, Yucatán, Núm. 3695, 15 December 1909.

Notes

The merged bank used notes of the previous banks, now overprinted in red "Banco Peninsular Mexicano".

Peninsular 5 HC 178784

Peninsular 20 YU 03174

American Bank Note Company print run

In November 1913 the ABNC altered the plate for the $1 Banco Yucateco, changing the bank's name. changing "Cajero" to "Consejero" and engraving new signatures. However, this order was cancelled by the bank on 12 December 1913.

In December 1913 the ABNC printed these notes from altered plates of the $5 Banco Yucateco, changing the bank's name and changing "Cajero" to "Consejero". These notes had the typographed signatures of M. Marin C. as Director and J. Juanes G. as Consejero.

Peninsular 5 A 212096

Peninsular 5 A 212096 reverse

Date Value Number Series from to
December 1913 $5 300,000 A 1 300000

Signatures

The signatures are M. Marín C. as Director, Benito Aznar as Gerente, Antonio Rendón as Interventor. and J. Juanes G. as Consejero.

Director

M. Marín C. sig Marin

Interventor

Antonio Rendón sig Rendon

Consejero

J. Juanes G. sig Juanes

 

American Book and Printing Company

During the revolution the bank also issued a $1 note produced by the American Book and Printing Company with a design adapted from the earlier $1 Banco Yucateco note, signed by Rendón as Interventor, Marín as Director and Antonio Cáceres as Cajero.

Peninsular 1 A 268594

Cajero

Arturo Cáceres sig Caceres