A used, but uncancelled, dividend check from the Office of the Commissioners of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company for “Twenty seven Cents.”. Payable to George H. Burch, Robert Purvis, John A. J. Creswell.
A used, but uncancelled, dividend check from the Office of the Commissioners of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company for “Twenty seven Cents.”

A used, but uncancelled, dividend check from the Office of the Commissioners of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company for “Twenty seven Cents.”

New York for the Lynchburg, Virginia branch: 1878. Unbound. This Freedman’s bank check was made payable to George Burch for “Twenty-seven Cents” and signed by two of the company’s commissioners, Robert Purvis and John A. J Creswell. It is uncanceled, unpunched, and uncashed with a manuscript endorsement on the reverse that reads “Transferred to J W Clacof and Mrs G H Burch”. The check is illustrated with an exceptionally nice, iconic image of Abraham Lincoln from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In nice shape with only a little soiling and wear. Very good. Item #009460

The Freedman's Savings and Trust Company was a private bank chartered by Congress in 1865. Its primary purpose was to serve as a depository for black veterans, and to help support former slaves and their families to build savings. The bank eventually had 12 branches with its national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, due construction of an ostentatious building, questionable speculative investments, mismanagement, instability of the Panic of 1873, and a fraud scandal, the bank began to fail. Frederick Douglass served as its last president, and the bank officially closed in June 1874. Subsequently Congress established a program to reimburse depositors 62% of their savings, but many depositors never applied to receive their funds.

Some historians claim this bank’s failure was responsible for creating a general distrust of the banking industry within multiple generations of African-Americana. (See Oxford University Press Blog, “Black History Month, Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company,” February 2007.)

This George H Burch was one of two known African-American Civil Was Soldiers with that name. One served in the U.S. Colored Troops 5th Cavalry, the other in the U.S. Colored Troops 114th Infantry.

Robert Purvis was a prominent African-American abolitionist who turned down President Lincoln’s offer to lead the Freedman’s Bureau to instead become a bank commissioner.

John Creswell was a white politician and abolitionist who historians consider having been the best Postmaster General in U.S. history.

Freedman’s Bank checks appear several times each year in eBay auctions, however they are inevitably punch cancelled, most with multiple holes. Unpunched checks in nice condition, like this one, are uncommon.

Price: $150.00