Rare Civil War note back in Valparaiso after 150 years

2012-06-06T19:15:00Z 2012-06-06T21:38:07Z Rare Civil War note back in Valparaiso after 150 yearsBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | A historical bit of American currency will be one of the items on display at a reception Sunday at the Porter County Museum in Valparaiso.

The reception is being held exactly 150 years after the 25-cent scrip was issued by Molbay Carr, who operated a stagecoach line between Valparaiso and what became Chesterton. The substitute currency is believed to be one of only five like it still in existence, and it was printed in Valparaiso, not by the federal government.

The note was recently bought by Valparaiso resident Adam Holterhoff Jr. online from Don C. Kelly, an Oxford, Ohio, dealer and author on paper money. Holterhoff said Kelly believes this is the only Valparaiso merchant's note he has handled in decades of experience, and it certainly isn't showing its age.

"I was kind of looking for something with a Valparaiso connection," Holterhoff said of his success in finding the 25-cent note, which he said was listed near the back of the online catalog.

Holterhoff worked as an engineer, but he "retired a little early," he said. So, he went to work part time at Greg Engstrom's Valparaiso pawn shop in the coin department.

"Sometimes people would bring notes (paper money) in, and, for the first couple of years, I didn't know that much about them and I had to ask him what they were worth," Holterhoff said. "About six or eight months ago I decided to learn more about it."

He's been a coin collector for 50 years but has branched out into paper money, including Confederate money, which he plans to include in his display at the reception.

"I enjoy the artwork," he said of the delicate etching used to create most forms of paper currency.

He's had the rare Valparaiso-minted scrip for about a month, but the reception was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the issuance. He keeps it with other rare currency in a safe deposit box.

He said gold and silver money was scarce during the war, and merchants and others issued their own substitutes in the form of tokens, promissory notes and IOUs. The Carr note is printed in red and black ink on newsprint-like paper.

He paid $250 for that 25-cent note. That's more than the rate of inflation, but he probably can't cash it in for that stagecoach ride anymore.

The reception will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the museum at the corner of Franklin Street and Indiana Avenue.

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