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Early Paper Money of America / La Louisiane / 1721-1722 Compagnie des Indies Storehouse Orders

[No examples of the following seven French paper money issues have been located. These are known only through the research and writing of those who have examined the remaining original archives. Much of the data is incomplete, unexplained, and confusing. Printing was not available in New Orleans until 1764 and thus whether prior issues were printed in France in whole or in part, or whether scribes wrote them is an open question. Similarly, the size of the individual pieces is unknown and the means and extent of their circulation is unknown. Without examples of the paper money itself the comments, which follow, are subject to challenge. Nevertheless, an attempt is made to present this elusive subject rather than to omit it as its inclusion may stimulate further findings.]

The Compagnie des Indies in continuing the economic development of La Louisiane operated storehouses from which supplies could be withdrawn by those working on its behalf. The supplies were charged against the allotment of funds for each employee’s services. Requests for such supplies had to be submitted to Compagnie officials for approval. After approval and before the specified items were withdrawn from the storehouses these orders circulated as a medium of exchange. By Ordinance of May 20, 1722 they were to be exchanged for card money by January 1, 1723, but those working far from New Orleans complained. On September 6, 1723 buying or selling Compagnie notes was declared illegal, as they had depreciated in value. By 1725 all storehouse orders and cards were redeemed in New Orleans. The small change which consisted of 9 denier French colonial copper coins dated 1721 and 1722 was devalued to 6 deniers by 1724 when the coins were given legal tender status.

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