Scrip-o-Folly - or - Shinplasters of Findlay ~ 1862 Bank Notes from Citizens Bank ~ Featuring Findlay

A quick look at some antique paper bank note coupons, aka SCRIP, also called SHINPLASTERS, from the Citizens Bank Findlay Ohio, circa 1862.

First, the Citizens' Bank:

  • The Citizens' Bank, under the firm name of Ewing, Carlins & Co., was established in the spring of 1854, and commenced business on the 3d of April. 
  • Located on Main Cross, opposite the courthouse.
  • John Ewing, Squire and Parlee Carlin, Charles W. O' Neal, Louis Adams and Samuel Howard composed the firm. In April, 1855, Mr. Howard retired from the firm. the following November Mr. O'Neal dropped out, and Mr. Ewing in April, 1856. 
  • Adams, Carlins & Co. continued to run the bank until December, 1863, when Paul Sours took the place of Mr. Adams, and the firm became Carlins & Co
  • This bank was at that time the leading banking house of the county, and did a very large business. 
  • On the 17th of January, 1876. it was reorganized as the "Citizens' Savings Bank," with the following stockholders:
  •  Parlee Carlin, Dr. Lorenzo Firmin, M. D. Sours, Lewis C. Carlin, James A. Bope, Squire Carlin, Dr. Bass Rawson, George W. Myers, Samuel D. Frey, D. J. Cory, William L. Davis, John Davis, Isaac Davis and Mrs. D. B. G. Carlin. Soon afterward Peter Holler, Isaac Blaksley and Jacob W Wagner were added to the list, while Squire Carlin dropped out. 
  • The advertised capital was $50,000, and a guaranteed security of $100, 000. It was regarded as a sound financial institution, as its stockholders embraced several of the wealthiest men of the county; 
  • but on the 25th of March, 1878, it went down in financial ruin. 
  • The board of directors at the time of the failure were Dr. Lorenzo Firmin, president; D. J. Cory, vice-president; James A. Bope, secretary; Parlee Carlin, John W. Adams, Isaac Blaksley, Lewis C. Carlin and Jacob Wagner, with M. D. Sours, cashier.
  • The cause of the failure was claimed by the officials to be the "heavy liabilities" and "scaly assets" of the old bank, which were unknowingly assumed by the reorganized institution. It was thought by many that the bank would resume business in a short time, but it never again opened its doors.

Source: History of Hancock County


A Collection of SHINPLASTERS

Shinplasters were small-denomination notes issued by banks and other businesses in response to a lack of coin. (The name derives from the quality of paper which was so cheap that with a bit of starch, it could be used to make papier mache-like plasters to go under socks and warm shins.)
[Source: #787]


Here's an excerpt from an informative article about collecting paper money, written by noted numismatist Tom Becker [source]:


Early on the Government established rules as to who had the right to produce and distribute paper money. The rules have been relaxed, tightened, and changed over the years but never has there been a time when this right was granted to every citizen. There are many examples in our history of when the scarcity of coins severely hampered normal commerce. Let's suppose that we ran a grocery store but had no coins available to make change for our customers. While we could keep a list that showed that we owed regular customer Jones eight cents and Dr. Smith four cents such bookkeeping would be cumbersome. Wouldn't it be more practical to give customers a slip of paper that was " good for" the amount we owed them and could be redeemed the next time they came shopping? If we were well established in the community then it might well be that Jones and Smith could use the slip of paper that we had given them as money when they went shopping elsewhere.

There are many different types of scrip ranging from handwritten notes to elaborately engraved pieces printed on high quality paper. While there were incidents of merchants and others skipping town before redeeming all of their scrip and others trying to pass worthless "good fors". It appears the system, often used honestly to facilitate trade when no official money was available, worked quite well. I find it interesting that scrip issued by some of the most famous and honest merchants is quite rare. Merchants might number their scrip to keep track of their outstanding obligations. If there was no longer a reason to use the scrip the merchant might make an effort to redeem all their "markers" and destroy the no longer needed scraps of paper. If a merchant suddenly went bankrupt or left town under the cover of darkness their scrip might be widely scattered and ultimately end up in the hands of collectors a hundred years later. In the region of New Hampshire where I live I found a couple denominations of scrip issued by a previous local merchant. When I showed these notes to dealers who specialize in this material none of them had remembered seeing the little notes. I was very proud of my rare find. Several years after my discovery a part-time coin dealer called and offered me a few sets of the same scrip I thought was rare. He had several types and denominations that I didn't have. His price was quite fair and I bought three sets of four different notes. When I asked him how many more pieces he had he evasively answered by saying that he had a "few" but he wanted to keep them for himself. Suddenly the scrip started turning up everywhere! Nearly every dealer I talked with had a few sets. The stuff was offered for sale in most every antique group shop from Berlin New Hampshire to Salem in the same state! I later learned that this part-time dealer had bought several shoeboxes full of the scrip from the family of the merchant who issued it. What had once been rare was suddenly very common.

As with many merchants’ tokens much of the scrip that was issued, especially in early times, may not identify the exact location of the merchant who issued it. The scrip was intended for use in the local community so there really wasn't much need to mention the state. Sometimes even the town name was omitted. Collectors of scrip and related material have had a great time trying to positively identify the location of the business that issued it. In many cases the scrip remains a "maverick" and the location of the business remains a mystery for another interested collector to solve

Learn more about collecting paper currency here.

Squire and Parlee Carlin - Founding Brothers

  • Squire and Parlee Carlin, brothers, were two of the earliest settlers in Findlay.
  • Squire Carlin is credited with having opened the first store in the new village. -- in 1826
  • 1828 - formed a partnership with his brother. Their store was known as S. and P. Carlin.
  • The partners spent much time traveling through the forest buying furs from the Indians, white hunters and small traders. They would be taken by Squire Carlin or his brother to Detroit for sale and shipment to England and Europe. One winter, the Carlins purchased 4,600 deer skins and 7,000 coon skins.
  • The brothers carried on their business at the Main and Front location until 1852, when they sold out, but continued to operate their grist and saw mills on the north bank of the Blanchard River for some years yet. They also engaged in the real estate and banking business for some years.
  • More about the Carlin Brothers here: Findlay Courier Bicentennial
  • They have many, many mentions in the History of Hancock County, also (click link, then click 'view all' on the site).
  • Squire Carlin's biography is here.

John Ewing, another Citizens' Bank founder was also an important early settler in Hancock County:

  • John Ewing was for many years one of the leading merchants of Findlay. 
  • He came to Findlay from Pennsylvania in 1833, and at once engaged in merchandising. 
  • At quite an early day he erected the three-story brick store known as the "Old White Corner", and was a man of considerable wealth. 
  • In March, 1842, Mr. Ewing was elected associate judge and served on the bench seven years. 
  • He was the member who represented this senatorial district in the constitutional convention of 1850-51. 
  • Judge Ewing was dignified and exclusive in his habits, and not very popular in the social circles of the village. 
  • In 1860 he removed to Springfield, Ohio, and afterward to Wisconsin, dying in Milwaukee in 1880.  
  • The people of Findlay, claim if it had not been for Judge Ewing's opposition and influence in favor of the Findlay Branch, the Pittsburgh. Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad would have been located through the town, which ever since would have been enjoying the advantages of that great trunk line. 
  • Source: History of Hancock County

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