Exceptionally Rare PMG-certified Hawaiian Scrip Highlights Kagin’s 2021 ANA Auction

Posted on 2/19/2021

A currency printed in Hawaii during the 1800s demonstrates the ingenuity and creativity of early makers of paper money.

A fascinating group of rare Hawaiian currency certified by Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®) is being offered in Kagin’s 2021 ANA auction scheduled for March 11-12, 2021. The “Aloha Hawaiian Collection” includes many high-grade examples of Hawaiian scrip, which was produced in the early to mid-19th century when private Hawaiian institutions and companies resorted to printing their own money due to an acute shortage of coins.

In its first stages, Hawaiian scrip was simply a notation of the denomination and the signature of the issuer on cardboard. But counterfeiting led scrip producers to develop engraved plates, with the hallmark design elements of printed currency, such as undulating lines and depictions of maps and local monuments.

Very few pieces of Hawaiian scrip have survived, making them incredibly scarce today. Adding to their allure, they are astonishingly small yet intricately detailed, and unlike any currency that most people — even collectors — have ever seen before.

Presented here are some highlights being offered in the sale, organized by the institutions and companies that printed them.

Ladd & Company, 1835-1844

As described in the Hawaiian Money Standard Catalog (Second Edition) by Donald Medcalf and Ronald Russell, Hawaii’s sugar industry started in 1835 at Koloa on the Island of Kauai. Ladd & Company signed a lease with King Kamehameha III for 980 acres of land to raise sugar.

William Hooper, who was manager of the company, issued scrip in 1837 to pay workers. A laborer was given a ration of fish, poi and one Hapawalu (12 1/2 cents or a “bit” or 1/8 dollar) for a day’s work in Kauai money. In that same year, they exported their first crop of 2.1 tons of raw sugar and 2,700 gallons of molasses.

Unfortunately, in November 1844, Ladd & Company went bankrupt. The Hawaiian government seized the land and other assets and subsequently offered them for sale in settlement of company debts. At that time, they had an outstanding debt of $2,000 in Ladd & Company scrip.


Kingdom of Hawaii, LADD & Company, 2PE-1, 1835 Hapawalu graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 63
Click images to enlarge.

This rare Ladd & Company 1835 HAPAWALU 2PE‐1 (Lot #6008), with an estimate of $20,000 to $35,000, is one of a reported two known, and the only example graded by PMG to date. Overprinted on “amateur theater” tickets, the back of the note shows a black “BLH” (standing for Brinsmead, Ladd, Hooper, the operating partners of the company), with the circular logo designed to cover the “amateur theater” markings.

The front of the note shows a crude printed border of square ornaments around the hand-lettered date 1835 (probably added later) with HAPAWALU at the center and Hooper’s signature in black ink on white paper that is a mere 17 X 28 millimeters.

Lahainaluna School, 1843-1844

Hawaii’s first printing press was brought to Honolulu by the missionaries in 1820. Printing started in 1822, but in 1833 the press was shipped to Lahainaluna School, which was established in 1831. Under the direction of Reverend Lorrin Andrews, engraving and printing of scrip was made to order. Four individuals are known to have received made-to-order scrip notes, but only the notes ordered by Edward Bailey of the Wailuku Female Seminary of Maui and John Bernard of Kauai survive today.

Wailuku Female Seminary, 1844

The Wailuku Female Seminary opened in July 1837 in Wailuku, Maui, and was dedicated to teaching domestic arts to native girls. Remnants of the Female Seminary still exist on the Maui Historical Society Museum grounds in Wailuku.

Edward Bailey, former principal (1840‐1849), wrote a letter dated April 6, 1897, explaining why he had this money issued: “The occasion of printing these notes was the difficulty of finding silver Hapawalus (12 ½ cent pieces or a “bit”) for men employed in working at the Wailuku Female Seminary of which I was then in charge. When these notes had accumulated, they were redeemed with silver and goods.”

The Wailuku Female Seminary 1844 1 Hapaumi (Lot #6009), graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 63, is printed in red, a bit irregularly, on one side (uniface) of a thin piece of cardboard that measures 38 X 44 millimeters. Printed throughout the concentric circular design is WAILUKU, NA BAILEY, KULAKAI, KAMAHINE and HATAUMI.

Only $200 worth of these notes were issued in 1844, with seven eventually being given to the Hawaii State Archives. This is the sole example graded in the PMG Population Report. It has an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000.

Kingdom of Hawaii, Wailuku Female Seminary, 2PE-5, 1844 Hapaumi graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 63
Click image to enlarge.

There is a different variety of the Wailuku Female Seminary 1844 1 Hapaumi note that is counter-stamped with “Edward Bailey” and designated as 2PE-6. According to Medcalf and Russell, Edward Bailey was a genius of numerous accomplishments: mathematician, farmer, linguist, engineer, musician, builder, administrator, teacher and botanist.

Bailey ventured into the manufacturing of sugar at Wailuku, which later became the Wailuku Sugar Plantation and Haiku Sugar Company in Haiku, Maui. It is unknown how many of these Bailey counter‐stamped notes were made. To date, this is the sole example in the PMG Population Report. It is Lot #6010 and has an estimate of $7,500 to $10,000.

Kingdom of Hawaii, Wailuku Female Seminary, 2PE-6, 1844 Hapaumi with Edward Bailey Counterstamp graded PMG Choice Very Fine 35
Click image to enlarge.

“Benard” money, 1844

Medcalf and Russell state that Frenchman John Bernard and Englishman Godfrey Rhodes leased 150 acres of land in Hanalei, on the Island of Kauai, from the Hawaiian government. This lease consisted of two parcels of land forming, in 1842, the basis of Hawaii’s first extensive and successful coffee plantation. About $850 of scrip was printed for John Bernard, who tragically drowned in 1845.

This Kingdom of Hawaii, “Bernard” Money, 2PE-7, 1844, Hookahi Dala (Lot #6011), graded PMG About Uncirculated 50, is also uniface. A map of the Hawaiian Islands is illustrated on the note, which is mounted on heavy cardboard stock. The letters B‐E‐R‐N‐A‐R‐D appear on the top and bottom between the compass degrees in the squares along the border. Medcalf and Russell state that this is the only known example. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $35,000.

Kingdom of Hawaii, “Bernard” Money, 2PE-7, 1844 Hookahi Dala graded PMG About Uncirculated 50
Click image to enlarge.

Lahainaluna Seminary, 1843‐1844

To facilitate trade at the Lahainaluna Seminary on Maui, Reverend Lorrin Andrews directed that sheets of notes be printed from engraved copper plates. In all, 228 sheets (approximately $450) were produced. These were made up of six denominations, printed on a single sheet of thin paper and pasted on dark brown cardboard and cut apart. A single full uncut sheet not pasted on cardboard is also known to exist.

The history of these notes comes with a scandalous side story. Soon after these notes were produced, it appears that one of Reverend Andrews’ print shop students surreptitiously printed a quantity on his own. These were discovered and the culprit caught.

To make certain none of the unauthorized notes got into circulation, secret marks were added to each of the original engraved plates. Any notes without such marks were destroyed, and none exist today. Kagin’s estimates about a half dozen sets with added secret marks remain extant.

Kagin’s plans to auction the full set of six Lahainaluna Seminary notes individually on a provisional basis, and will then offer the notes as a group lot starting at 5% above the provisional total of the six notes. If there are no bids for the group lot, the lots will be awarded to those who were successful on each individual note.

Five of the Lahainaluna Seminary notes feature a theme: They are industry, law, science, geography and education. The sixth displays a map of the Hawaiian Islands.

The “Industry” example (Lot #6012) shows bees around a beehive. Measuring 22 X 27 millimeters, it is uniface. Graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 63, the piece is the second finest of four examples certified by PMG. (The finest is graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 64.) It has an estimate of $2,500 to $3,500.

Kingdom of Hawaii, Lahainaluna Seminary 2PE-10, 1843-44 3 Keneta graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 63
Click image to enlarge.

Next is the “Law” example (Lot #6013), with scales and denomination centered. It measures 21 X 25 millimeters and is uniface. Graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 63, this is the second finest of four certified by PMG. (The finest is graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 64.) It has an estimate of $2,500 to $3,500.

Kingdom of Hawaii, Lahainaluna Seminary, 2PE-11, 1843-44 Hapaumi graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 63
Click image to enlarge.

The “Science” example (Lot #6014) features a telescope and tripod. It measures 27 X 46 mm and is uniface. Graded PMG Uncirculated 62, it is one of four certified by PMG. The estimate is $2,500 to $3,500.

Kingdom of Hawaii, Lahainaluna Seminary, 2PE-12, 1843-44 Hapawalu graded PMG Uncirculated 62
Click image to enlarge.

For “Geography,” (Lot #6015) two world globes on stands are shown. With a grade of PMG Choice Uncirculated 64, this is the finest of four certified by PMG. It measures 27 X 46 millimeters and is also uniface. The estimate is $5,000 to $7,500.

Kingdom of Hawaii, Lahainaluna Seminary, 2PE-13, 1843-44 3 Hapaha graded PMG Choice Uncirculated 64
Click image to enlarge.

The “Education” example (Lot #6016) displays a coastal town and the mountain of Lahaina. It measures a slightly larger 38 X 56 millimeters and is uniface. Graded, PMG Uncirculated 62, this is one of four certified by PMG. The estimate is $3,500 to $5,000

Kingdom of Hawaii, Lahainaluna Seminary, 2PE-14, 1843-44 Hapalua graded PMG Uncirculated 62
Click image to enlarge.

And finally, 2PE-15 (not pictured) is the largest example at 40 x 71 millimeters (Lot #6017). It shows a map of the Hawaiian Islands with the Kingdom of Hawaii's flag just left of center. Graded PMG Uncirculated 62, it is the second finest of three certified by PMG. The estimate is $5,000 to $7,500.

Also featured in Kagin’s auction are several rare PMG-graded Russian‐American Company “Walrus Skin” notes from the Joe Usibelli Collection.

Other desirable PMG-certified notes in sale include:

  • Lot #7022 – an 1863 $5 Serial #1, Fr.# 63 graded PMG Fine 12, with an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000
  • Lot #7026 – a 1901 $10 Bison, Fr.# 122 graded PMG Gem Uncirculated 65 EPQ, with an estimate of $8,000 to $10,000
  • Lot #7033 – a 1918 $500 Federal Reserve Note Chicago. Fr.# 1132-G graded PMG Choice Very Fine‐35, with an estimate of $30,000 to $35,000
  • Lot #7072 – a 1985 $20 Error, Fr.# 2075-F graded PMG Choice Very Fine 35 EPQ, with an estimate of $400 to $700
  • Lot #7095 – an 1875 $2 “Lazy Deuce” from Fitchburg, MA., Fr.# 382 graded PMG Choice Very Fine 35 Minor Repairs, with an estimate of $4,000 to $5,000
  • Lot #7106 – an 1882 $5 Date Back, New Mexico Territory, Fr.# 537 graded PMG Very Good 10, with an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000
  • Lot #7124 – a 1902 $100 Red Seal from Washington, PA., Fr.# 686 graded PMG Choice Fine 15, with an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000
  • Lot #7125 – a 1902 $50 Red Seal from Providence, RI. Fr.# 664 graded PMG Very Fine 30, with an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000

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