$50 Paper Currency (Vellum), Fine
17.5 cm x 7.5 cm (6-7/8” x 2-7/8”)
HISTORY: The Newtown Precinct (Township) was founded in 1751 (renamed Newton in 1825) and existed until 1864 when the Village of Newton was incorporated. At the time this banknote was created, Newton was still 25+ years from becoming its own town.
In 1825, an engraver by the name of Freeman Rawdon (1802‒1859) opened a banknote business in New York City. Three years later, in 1828, he teamed with engraver Neziah Wright (1804‒1879) as business expanded. In 1832, Rawdon’s older brother Ralph Rawdon (1790‒1860) and his partners joined the enterprise, which now became the Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Co, New York. By 1847, they had added Tracy Edson (1809‒1881), primarily as business administrator, to run operations in New Orleans, Boston, and, eventually, New York. His name was added to the letterhead, known prominently as Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, Edson & Co, New York.
I have seen this same “broken” banknote (note never issued or became useless when banks closed and could no longer pay up) printed by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, Edson & Co, New York. But, since this note was printed by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Co, New York, it had to have been printed sometime between 1832 and 1847 before Edson joined the firm. The year it was created is anyone’s guess since little is known about The Sussex Bank.
OBVERSE: Freeman Rawdon had been designing engraved banknote and postage-stamp plates for a decade by this time. He and his associates were still developing a catalog of engraved images, so it is possible that those shown on this banknote are original as opposed to stock designs. (The Thomas Jefferson cameo may have been a file copy since they had created portraits of all the presidents.) Overall, however, it does have a “cut-and-paste” look.
The top center vignette is a farmland scene with a seated Ceres, the kind and benevolent Roman goddess of agriculture, grain, and fertility. She holds a scythe in her right hand, and behind her left shoulder is a plough. Bottom right, beneath the weeds, are the initials “ABD.” Asher B. Durand (1796–1886) was an artistic engraver working as early as 1818. He teamed with Joseph Perkins (1788‒1842) in 1828 to form Durand & Perkins, opening shop at the Merchants Exchange in New York City. This pastoral illustration may very well have been created years earlier. I have seen it on a Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Co, New York, specimen sheet, but I don’t have a date to verify its first creation. The horse cameo is also from an earlier Durand & Perkins specimen sheet, date unkown.
This bill has not been signed or numbered and was never issued. At the bottom of the bill, to the right of the Jefferson cameo, in very tiny print, are the words “Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Co, New York.”