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Early Paper Money of America / La Louisiane / 1756-1763 Public Bons or Treasury Notes

[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.]

Promissory notes from 10 soles to 100 livres beginning with the words “Bon Pour” (good for) were drawn on the Colonial treasury in New Orleans in 1756 and convertible to bills of exchange on France in three months. When conversion was suspended in 1760, Governor Kerlerac arranged for a 4,000,000 livres legal tender issue of numbered parchment bons, 6” x 4” in size, ranging from 6 sols to 5000 livres. That practice until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, when 7,000,000 livres were outstanding. The French then abandoned redemption. When the Spanish arrived in 1766, depreciation of 25% had occurred. In 1769 the Spanish redeemed the French issues at 60% of face value. No issued examples are known. The assay for a 5000 livres Colonie de la Louisiane, New Orleans, Bon de Caisse is illustrated.

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