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Early Paper Money of America / La Louisiane / 1726, etc. Compagnie des Indies Billets de Caisse

[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 continued to issue paper currency to pay its debts and it was freely circulated. An ordinance of November 15, 1731 was passed because officials thought the issue interfered with the value of the King’s coin and provided that the paper money would be worthless after 15 days unless exchanged for goods at French government storehouses in America. This was a factor in the elimination of the existence and exclusive trading privileges of the Compagnie des Indies and the transfer of development responsibilities to the King. The Compagnie paper money had depreciated to 35 livres to the piastre (Spanish dollar), but lingered in circulation until 1735.

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