Thursday, May 23, 2019
New Hampshire Merchant Scrip, Along with a Brief History of Its Use and Biographical Sketches of the Merchants, by Kevin G. Lafond
During troubled times, people tended to hoard coins, which were made from silver and gold, to hedge against an uncertain future. Not unlike the hoarding of gold currently practiced in troubled countries around the world today. However, with coins rapidly disappearing from circulation, merchants found it near impossible to conduct trade. Being practical, many settled on a solution of issuing their own small denomination paper money, or IOU’s. Once the need disappeared, so did the notes. These ephemeral reminders of past financial history are highly collectible today. But who were the merchants that issued the notes, where were they located, and when were they issued?
There were no lists of note-issuing merchants, and in most cases, no readily available biographical information. That problem has been remedied, at least for New Hampshire. In the words of one reviewer:
The meat of the book consists of a compilation of scrip issues accompanied by brief, yet detailed accounts of the merchants—their operations and lives—who used the scrip. To call this book a mere catalog would be greatly misleading, though it does provide a reference scheme and attempts to give rarity ratings and note counts for each issue. Even for the smallest town and issue, Lafond’s research appears exhaustive, as if he had ransacked every local historical society in search of any information pertinent to their local merchants. Instead of relegating this historical detail to introductions or appendices, as some catalogs do, Lafond instead integrates them into the text with a simple and intuitive framework. Sometimes, his meticulous footnotes alone contain more detail than the corresponding text, and represent delightful side-paths for the careful reader to follow.
About the author:
Kevin Lafond is new to the world of nonfiction writing but brings to it a passion for history and tenacious research, as well as a lifetime of experience in the topic of merchant scrip. Mr. Lafond is a Certified Public Accountant and a Senior Vice President of Finance at a Boston biotechnology company. He lives along New Hampshire’s scenic Seacoast with his family.
At once a catalog of scrip and a compendium of commercial history at the most granular level, this volume hits a sweet spot between the schematic list making typical of catalogs and the rich details typical of local histories. As such, this valuable book should prove a resource to numismatists, professional historians, and general readers alike for a long time to come.
– Loren Gatch, Society of Paper Money Collectors
New Hampshire Merchant Scrip, Along with a Brief History of Its Use and Biographical Sketches of the Merchants. By Kevin G. Lafond. Foreword by Q. David Bowers. (Portsmouth, NH: Peter E. Randall Publisher, 2018. Pp. XVI, 471. Illustrations. Notes. Bibliography. Index. cloth), is available for purchase from the author, Kevin Lafond, P.O. Box 4724, Portsmouth, NH 03802-4724, for $89.50 plus $10.00 shipping (Make checks payable to Kevin Lafond). Inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.