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Depression Era Scrip

Scrip or Script is a medium of exchange that is produced in place of federal currency. It can be made by a municipality, a bank, a business or individual.  In the late 1920’s and mid 1930’s the use of scrip spread to many areas of the country as cash was scarce and banks were closing down. Below are photos of some Scrip from the City of Detroit dated June 10, 1933.

The notes were printed by the Columbian Printing Company. They have the look of currency, but are printed on a plain paper, unlike the fiber paper the US uses. These notes also had water marks that run vertically near the ends of the notes. US notes of that era do not have water marks.

Detroit Depression Scrip 1933

Detroit Depression Scrip 1933

The front of the notes have a serial number and have a seal on them referring to them as “Series A”. It is roughly the same size as a current Federal Reserve Note (you know, the currency we use now).

1933 Detroit Depression Scrip

1933 Detroit Depression Scrip

The moto of Detroit is printed on the note. The latin phrases read “SPERAMUS MELIORA””RESURGET CINERIBUS”.  This translates to “We hope for better things. It will arise from the ashes”. I’ve never seen a more prophetic motto! This motto was given to Detroit in 1805 after a fire destroyed much of the city.

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