Paper Money of Chihuahua

.. by Simon Prendergast

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Norris Peters

Villa’s agents had been in contact with various printing houses in the United States and decided to move to Norris Peters, who in 1914 were based at 458-460 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. The advantages included the fact that Norris Peters were already printing the Ejército Constitucionalista notes: the disadvantages included that this fact later caused problems when Villa broke with Carranza.

The first contractLG papers, 4-C-5, agreement, 18 July 1914, dated 18 July 1914, was for $10,000,000 in notes, at a cost of US $8,190, thus:

NumberTotal value
50c 1,000,000 500,000
$1 1,500,000 1,500,000
$5 400,000 2,000,000
$10 300,000 3,000,000
$20 75,000 1,500,000
$50 50,000 1,500,000
3,305,000 $10,000,000

On 21 July Juan Perches Enríquez was instructed to go to the United States, with two trustworthy accomplices, and oversee the printing of these ten million pesos "of the first issue of the Banco de Estado de Chihuahua"ST papers, box 84. The El Paso Morning Times reported "Special commission left for Washington to arrange printing of new issue of 10,000,000 pesos for Chihuahua State Bank which is to be opened at Chihuahua the last of September.El Paso Morning Times, 24 July 1914". Ignacio was in New York with Demetrio Bustamente in June and his brother Juan was the only other person that he could trust. However, Lorenzo Rosado was given a safe-conduct on 22 July 1914, probably in connection with this commission, and Manuel Centurión is also mentioned.

The El Paso Herald reported on 31 July that Villa’s announced intention of issuing $10,000,000 in Villa money had come as a surprise to the Carranza representatives and that Carranza had  been notified by telegraphEl Paso Herald, 31 July 1914.

On 4 August Norris Peters began printing, starting with the $50 notes and then moving on to the $5 notes. On 5 August Navarro asked for instructions on where to place the numbering, but  the Agencia did not send a sample until 13 August. This was received the next day and numbering started on 15 AugustLG papers, 6-A-21, report Navarro, Washington, to L. de la Garza, El Paso, 1 September 1914.

On 3 September Perches Enríquez instructed Navarro to arrange a new contract for $10,000,000 in notes but though Navarro replied the same day with a quote by 30 September he had not received a replyLG papers, 6-A-42, telegram Navarro, Washington, to Luis Gaxiola, Ciudad Juárez, 30 September 1914.

Around the beginning of October there was a slight wobbleLG papers, 6-A-29, note concerning conflicting orders about the printing of banknotes given to R. E. Navarro either because of a lack of strategic direction from the top, a breakdown in communications, or rivalry between different “factions”. On one side was de la Garza and his associates. Thus, on 26 September Alfredo S. Farias told Navarro to accept orders from his brother, José Farias, who was coming from de la Garza in WashingtonLG papers, 6-A-30, telegram Alfredo S. Farias, Chihuahua, to Navarro, Washington,26 September 1914: 6-A-38: telegram L. de la Garza, New York, to Navarro, Washington, 28 September 1914. On the other side were Hipolito Villa and Luis GaxiolaNavarro discovered on 19 December that Grossberger, one of his team, had been put in as an informant or spy by Hipolito Villa and Gaxiola (LG papers, 6-C-62, letter Navarro, Washington to de la Garza, El Paso, 20 December 1914). On 1 October Luis Gaxiola told Navarro that Hipolito Villa would give him instructions by telegraphLG papers, 6-A-31, telegram Luis Gaxiola, Ciudad Juárez, to Navarro, Washington,1 October 1914 and told him to suspend the new issue and anything to do with FariasLG papers, 6-A-32: telegram Luis Gaxiola, Ciudad Juárez, to Navarro, Washington,1 October 1914: 6-B-2, telegram. Navarro, Washington, to L. de la Garza, New York. 2 October 1914. The same day Hipolito Villa told Navarro to send the plates and everything else by express and leave when everything was finishedLG papers, 6-A-33, telegram Hipolito Villa, Ciudad Juárez, to Navarro, Washington, 1 October 1914: 6-B-2, telegram. Navarro, Washington, to L. de la Garza, New York. 2 October 1914. On 4 October Hipolito Villa backtracked and told Navarro to wait in Washington until further ordersLG papers, 6-A-34, telegram Hipolito Villa, Ciudad Juárez, to Navarro, Washington, 4 October 1914 whilst on the same day Alfredo Farias told him to continue the work ordered by José FariasLG papers, 6-A-35, telegram A. S. Farias, El Paso, to R. E. Navarro, Washington, 4 October 1914.

However, the need for more notes would have been paramount. On 5 October Servando de la Garza left New York for Washington with full instructionsLG papers, 6-B-8, telegram S. C. de la Garza, New York, to Navarro, Washington, 5 October 1914. The next day Lázaro wrote to Servando de La Garza, at Norris Peters Co., telling him to arrange for only for ten million pesos as contradictory telegrams were still being received, but to reserve the right to make the rest laterLG papers, 2-F-34, telegram from L. de la Garza, New York, to S. C. de la Garza, Washington, D. C., 6 October 1914. However, on 8 October Raymundo E. Navarro (on behalf of de la Garza) signed another contractLG papers, 4-C-7, agreement, 8 October 1914 with Norris Peters for $8.5m in notes at a cost of $8,000. Finally, on 10 October Lázaro de la Garza told Navarro that he had received various telegrams from General Villa authorising the new contract LG papers, 6-B-10, letter L. de la Garza, New York, to Navarro, Washington, 10 October 1914.

NumberTotal value
50c 1,000,000 500,000
$1 1,500,000 1,500,000
$5 400,000 2,000,000
$10 300,000 3,000,000
$20 75,000 1,500,000
3,275,000 $8,500,000

While discussing a further contract it was briefly suggested dropping the 50c notes and printing $100 notesLG papers, 6-B-24, telegram Navarro, Washington, to L. de la Garza, Chihuahua, 28 October 1914: 6-B-29, telegram Navarro, Washington, to Hipolito Villa, Ciudad Juárez, 30 October 1914 or more $50 notesLG papers, 6-B-27, telegram Navarro, Washington, to A. S. Farias, El Paso, 30 October 1914. However, de la Garza had already ordered the paper for the 50c notes and this could not be used for other denominationsLG papers, 6-B-27, telegram Navarro, Washington, to A. S. Farias, El Paso, 30 October 1914.

On 16 November 1914 Navarro (on behalf of de la Garza) signed another contractLG papers, 4-C-9, agreement, 16 November 1914 with Norris Peters for $30m in notes at a cost of $24,000

NumberTotal value
50c 3,000,000 1,500,000
$1 4,500,000 4,500,000
$5 1,200,000 6,000,000
$10 900,000 9,000,000
$20 225,000 4,500,000
$50 90,000 4,500,000
9,915,000 $30,000,000

However there must have been problems, either over capacity or the Villistas’ ability to pay, because on 19 November 1914 de la Garza wrote from El Paso to Navarro in Washington suggesting that once he had printed the larger denominations he should arrange to get the 50c and $1 notes printed at a press in BaltimoreLG papers, 6-B-64, telegram de la Garza, El Paso, to Navarro, Washington, 19 November 1914. On the same day de la Garza informed Villa that he was personally taking charge, so that if there was any delay, it would be because the Tesorería was slow in stamping the notesLG papers, 1-F-124, telegram de la Garza, Ciudad Juárez, to Villa, on campaign, 19 November 1914.

On 28 November 1914 José F. Farias was sent to Washington to oversee the process, as he had had the most experience since the first issueLG papers, 1-I-20 letter de la Garza, El Paso, to Villa, Cuartel General. 28 November 1914.

On 21 December 1914 Navarro agreed another contractLG papers, 6-C-62, letter Navarro, Washington to de la Garza, El Paso, 20 December 1914: 4-G-13, letter from de la Garza, El Paso, to José F. Farias, Washington, 25 December 1914 with Norris Peters for $7m in notes at a cost of $16,940. This time it was decided not to print any lower value notes as they needed large sums to exchange the sábanasLG papers, 4-G-12, telegram L. de la Garza, El Paso, to José F. Farias, Washington, 25 December 1914.

NumberTotal value
$5 4,000,000 20,000,000
$10 2,000,000 20,000,000
$20 1,000,000 20,000,000
7,000,000 $60,000,000

On 9 January 1915 de la Garza authorised Navarro to contract for five million $20 notesLG papers, 6-D-19, telegram de la Garza, El Paso to Navarro, Washington, 9 January 1915: 6-D-20, letter de la Garza, El Paso to Navarro, Washington, 9 January 1915, which he did on 18 January, at a cost of $12,100LG papers, 4-C-12, letter de la Garza (via Navarro) to Norris Peters, Washington, 18 January 1915. There was a slight hiccup. On 25 January de la Garza told Navarro to stop all preparations on the new contract until further advisedLG papers, 6-D-36, telegram L. de la Garza, El Paso, to Navarro, Washington, 25 January 1915 and Navarro wanted to know to which contract he was referringLG papers, 6-D-45, telegram Navarro,, Washington, to L. de la Garza, El Paso, 29 January 1915.

NumberTotal value
$20 5,000,000 100,000,000
5,000,000 $100,000,000

On 30 January de la Garza told Navarro that when the current issue was finished he should pack up the stones and send them to the TesoreríaLG papers, 6-D-50, letter L. de la Garza, El Paso, to Navarro, Washington, 30 January 1915. He repeated this on 26 February, telling Navarro to send his employees home whilst he stayedLG papers, 6-E-32, letter L. de la Garza, El Paso, to Navarro, Washington, 26 February 1915. This last issue of $100,000,000 was completely finished and ready to send by 26 February 1915LG papers, 9-E-16, letter L. de la Garza, El Paso, to Vidal de la Garza, Chihuahua 26 February 1915.

On 5 March Navarro sent a box of printing stones and another of printing cuts to El PasoThe stones were addressed to Hipolito Villa and the cuts to the Tesorero General (LG papers, 6-E-28 and 6-E-29, Wells Fargo receipts). The shipment to Hipolito Villa were the steel plates used for printing the Banco del Estado notes that Perches Enriquez had brought from New York (LG papers, 6-E-47, letter Navarro, Washington to L. de la Garza, El Paso, 5 March 1915) so the "cuts" might have been the dos caritas plates.

By 20 April the last hundred million in notes had been sent to the Tesorería in Chihuahua, the plates were held in the Agencia Comercial and the staff withdrawn. De la Garza was still arguing for a new unifying issueLG papers, 1-J-9, letter de la Garza, to Villa, 20 April 1915.

 

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