As Sligo Borough looks to balance its 2018 general budget and the possibility of a tax increase always looming, it might be tempting to turn on the way-back machine and see how the borough dealt with cash problems in the past.
While Sligo no longer has any banks operating in the borough, at one time it had its own National Grange Bank organized in 1907, and even printed its own U.S. currency.
The Grange National Bank of Clarion County at Sligo also printed some notes that are now the hardest to obtain by collectors. Of course they couldn’t print money nilly willy, but the concept is tempting.
“The Grange movement, founded after the Civil War in 1867, was officially organized as The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry,” wrote Peter Huntoon of Bank Note Reporter. “It was a fraternal agricultural organization that fought for economic and political welfare of farmers. It remains the oldest American agricultural advocacy group with a national scope.”
Approximately one dozen Grange national banks were organized in Pennsylvania between 1906 and 1908, all in medium to small towns. The toughest to collect are the notes from The Grange National Bank of Clarion County at Sligo, which had by far the smallest issuance; specifically, a total of only 961 sheets of 5-5-5-5 and 10-10-10-20 1902 Red Seals and Date Backs.
How rare is the Sligo money?
The only reported surviving note is a $10 bill pictured with this article that bears sheet serial 81, signed by J.B. Morrison, president, and Roy Edgar, cashier.
The Sligo bank first organized as a Grange National Bank in 1907 and was later renamed the Sligo National Bank in 1913, transitioning from a grange bank until its demise in 1935. In its years of operation, the bank issued a total of $393,810. The bank is said to have issued the $5 1902 Blue Seal National Bank notes on 280 sheets.
“There are no known large sized notes from the Grange National Bank of Clarion County at Sligo,” according to National Currency Values. “A note on this bank will be a valuable item and will be highly sought after by collectors. I have no record of an existing example of the series 1902 $5 dollar bill from the Grange National Bank of Clarion County at Sligo.” Anyone with such a note is asked to write NationalCurrencyValues@gmail.com or text (914) 439-3666 for more information.
The bank issued notes under two different titles and included the following:
• 1902 — $10.
• 1902 — $20.
• 1902 — $5.
• 1929 — $10.
• 1929 — $20.
While the rarity of such notes is documented, the value of the notes varies.
One guide stated, “There is nothing especially rare about this type of money showing Ben Harrison. The rarity is all based on the condition and bank of issue. Your most generic $5 blue seals are going to sell for around $60. Common but more interesting notes sell for between $100 and $500. The upper end of the market is reserved for the rare stuff; and they can sell for thousands of dollars. The great news is that there are lots of rare banks out there. Many great discoveries are made everyday. Please contact us for pricing details. Don’t forget to check the serial number. Number 1 notes always sell for nice premiums.”
A 1927 newspaper ad for the Sligo National Bank listed total resources of $686,422.88. Bank officers included President Charles E. Andrews, Vice President Eugene Woods, Vice President H.M. Rimer, Cashier R.A. Callen, and Assistant Cashier W.C. Elliott.
Key issues of the Grange during that time period, in addition to banking, were predatory railroad tariffs and grain elevator commodity pricing. The key issues that they fought against were predatory railroad tariffs and grain elevator commodity pricing. Many Granges operated their own grain elevators. Their advocacy also was instrumental in the establishment of rural free mail delivery.