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Early Paper Money of America / La Louisiane / 1716-1718 Banque Generale

On June 15, 1715 a special issue of French notes with denominations of 50 and 100 livres had been suggested for use in La Louisiane, but the plan was not carried out. On March 19, 1717, France announced that new paper money would be sent to Nouvelle France, Martinique, and La Louisiane, but this did not take place.

La Louisiane was the basis of a dream of limitless prosperity promoted by John Law. In 1717 he organized the Compagnie de la Louisiane ou d’Occident to exploit the wealth of that region. As part of Law’s scheme La Banque Generale had been chartered on May 2, 1716 in France. The bank issued bearer notes in 15 series beginning June 6, 1716. Silver rose in price continually as these issues were emitted and specie values in the notes became fictitious. The only known examples issued by Banque Generale were discovered in 1988 and consisted of two dated June 10, 1718, one for 10 ecus and one for 50 ecus. On that date, following an Edict of May 20, 1718, the note stated that 10 ecus in silver were equal in weight to one Poid de Marc, which was one half of a pound (livre) weight.

The notes were indented using elaborate scrollwork. The numbering and dating are written in by hand. Notes contain an embossed seal dated May 1, 1716, the legend ETABLISSEMENT DU CREDIT, and the allegorical figure of La Fortune. Both the old fashioned and the more modern “s” are used in the engraved text of known notes. Personally signed by John Law along with his associate, Fenellon, and inspector Delagny. Partly because of a further major rise in the price of silver and to sustain confidence, an Edict of December 4, 1718 changed the name of the bank to Banque Royale, which issued circulating notes to redeem all issues of the Banque Generale.

Text translation:
Ten ecus to the Marc Fifty Ecus of Specie

The bank promises to pay to bearer at sight fifty ecus of specie at the present weight and standard. Value received at Paris the 10th of June, 1718.


Fenellon Delagny

Ecus in specie
10 40 50 100 400 500 1000

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