Rowe-Barr Collection of Texas Currency, DeGolyer Library

About the Collection

Overview

The Rowe-Barr Collection of Texas Currency at the DeGolyer Library is the most comprehensive in the United States, representing thousands of notes, scrip, bonds, and other financial obligations, issued in Texas between the 1820s and 1935.

DeGolyer Library digital collections are part of CUL Digital Collections, which contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU's Central University Libraries special collections.  

Holdings and Highlights

Town of Harrisburg 400 shares stock certificate, 1839, Harris County, signed by David G. Burnet and others

John N. Rowe III and B.B. Barr are brothers-in-law, business partners, and advocates for historical preservation.  Both men enjoy collecting and sharing the fruits of their collecting with others. Mr. Rowe, one of the leading numismatic dealers in the United States, started collecting bank notes as a boy. His hobby soon turned into a full-time profession. His special interest is Texas currency through the Civil War. Mr. Barr devoted much of his effort to collecting notes from the post-Civil War period. The men gave their collection to SMU in 2003, so it would be preserved and made accessible to others. This digital collection includes currency from significant historical eras, including the Republic of Texas (1836-1845), early statehood (1845-1861), the Confederacy (1861-1865), and the National Bank Era (1863-1913).

The Rowe-Barr currency collection offers an interesting avenue of access to life in Texas from the early days of its independence from Mexico through the years of the Great Depression. Issued by more than 100 counties, as well as banks, merchants, and private individuals, these notes were most often redeemable for cash, but sometimes for land or shares of stock.

Among the more famous signatures are those of Sam Houston, Mirabeau B. Lamar, David G. Burnet, Asa Brigham, Francis R. Lubbock, John Wyatt Moody, and Green DeWitt. Designs on the notes range from simple to quite elaborate and decorative.

About the Currency Collection

25 cents (twenty five cents) private scrip, 1862, Hempstead, Austin County

Known to collectors as "obsolete" notes, the Rowe-Barr Collection of Texas Currency is useful in a variety of ways for historical research.

Many of the currency notes are unique, and help to identify the issuing organizations that would otherwise be lost to history. By studying how notes were used, both within Texas and in exchange with merchants and governments elsewhere, scholars can learn much about the true basis and workings of the Texas economy.

In addition, currency notes are often beautiful objects in themselves and can be studied as examples of the art of engraving and printing. The imagery associated with the notes -- from classical goddesses to bison to railroads to cotton bolls -- tells us something about the culture and its aspirations and ideals.

Digital Collections Policies and Procedures

Burleson County $1.00 (one dollar) county scrip, 1862, Caldwell

The metadata, or information for each currency note, captures important features of each item. The notes are searchable by decade, county of origin, town of issue, bank issuer, and denomination, as well as by individual keywords.

The bank notes are assigned a rarity number ranked from 1 (least rare) to 7 (rarest). In this collection the rarity of a note is indicated by the letter “R” and the corresponding rarity number, for example, R.5. Also in the metadata for this collection, there is occasional reference to Medlar or Bieciuk and Corbin (BC), authors respectively of Texas Obsolete Notes and Scrip and Texas Confederate County Notes and Private Scrip. Reference to these resources is indicated in the Notes field by either “Medlar” and a page number or “BC” and a page number.

Each side of the note was scanned as a 1200 ppi, 16-bits per channel, RGB .tif file. The derivative images you see in the online collection were created by combining the recto and verso, and resizing the composite images as 3000 pixels on the long edge, 8-bits per channel RGB .jpg files. Users may zoom in on the currency notes using the magnifying tool for a more detailed view.

Related Collections

Texas State Capitol fire] 1881

The Rowe-Barr Collection of Texas Currency is one of a family of digital collections from the DeGolyer Library that focuses on Texas, the U.S. West, and Mexico:

Usage

Copyright usage terms vary throughout the collection. Each item contains information about usage terms. If SMU does not have the right to publish the item on the Internet, only the item's metadata will be available and the digitized object will be available on a restricted access basis. Such items may only be viewed on campus. When items are available for use, please cite DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University. A high-quality version of these files may be obtained for a fee by contacting degolyer@smu.edu.

Contact Info

For more information about the collection, please contact degolyer@smu.edu.