The Charlton Press is pleased to announce that the first edition of Canadian Merchant Scrip will be available early in the autumn of 2007. This book fills a need that has long been felt in the paper money collecting community. The last priced listing of merchant scrip was a 47-page section at the back of The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Paper Money, published in 1980. Needless to say, the prices found there have been hopelessly out of date for a very long time. Not only are the values finally being brought up to date, but the information provided will be much more comprehensive, taking the book far beyond being a mere price list.
The format of the book will be familiar to users of Charlton’s Canadian Bank Notes. A historical introduction is given for each issuer, wherever possible, and note descriptions follow, including designs, colours, dimensions, dates, imprints and signatures. Each note and variety is identified by a catalogue number, and the numbering system is again derived from that used in Canadian Bank Notes. Representative illustrations are included. Finally, notes are priced in up to six grades based on data provided by a number of leading collectors and dealers.
Listings are organized by province of origin, and are presented in alphabetical sequence for each province. Not surprisingly, just over half of the book is devoted to issues from Quebec, which has had such a long and rich history of merchants’ bons. Several pages at the back of the book are devoted to “maverick” notes, which lack either the issuer’s name or location. It is hoped that with continued research, and a measure of good luck, these can be identified for future editions.
It was essential at the outset to define what paper would be listed and what would not, and it was decided to follow the intent of the 1980 catalogue and restrict listings to notes intended to fulfill a currency role. Thus bons which were good for specific goods or services, but not cash, were not included. Commission scrip, discount coupons, ordinary promissory notes and such like are also excluded.
New listings are included which are not found in the 1980 catalogue, and a couple of earlier listings which clearly lay outside the parameters of the book have been deleted. Some errors of very long standing have been corrected, such as the dating of the J. D. Harris note of Kentville, N.S., and the true identity revealed of “W. Gittinear” of Prescott, Ont. whose name has been wrongly rendered since Breton’s 1894 catalogue.
The introduction to the book includes information on the coins which were used to illustrate scrip in the 1837 – 1839 period, and their values in the local money of account. An extensive historical section provides the context for the various usages of merchant scrip as it developed from an emergency issue to substitute for coin when it was unavailable, to “store pay” issued as wages and spent at the company store. Some thoughts are offered on factors which had an impact on the survival of notes to the present day. A few issues remain accessible to collectors while most have all but disappeared, many issues being represented by a single known example in an institutional collection. Biographical information is provided for a few of the principal printers of merchant scrip, such as Louis Perrault. Information on grading concludes the introduction. An index at the back should make it quite easy to find the listing for any particular issue.
The First Edition of Canadian Merchant Scrip, by R. J. Graham, consists of 240 pages, in a large 8.5 X 11 inch page format. It will be spiral bound so that it will lay open at the desired page. The book is priced at $75.00.