Advertising Envelope for a pair of Richmond slave traders along with a proof copy of a $20 banknote from a slave traders bank they helped found. William H. Betts, E. J. Gregory.
Advertising Envelope for a pair of Richmond slave traders along with a proof copy of a $20 banknote from a slave traders bank they helped found
Advertising Envelope for a pair of Richmond slave traders along with a proof copy of a $20 banknote from a slave traders bank they helped found

Advertising Envelope for a pair of Richmond slave traders along with a proof copy of a $20 banknote from a slave traders bank they helped found

Richmond, Virginia: 1860-1861. Unbound. This unused U. S. postal stationery envelope displays an embossed oval advertisement on the rear flap that reads, "Betts & Gregory / Auctioneers / For the Sale of Negroes / Franklin St. / Richmond, Va." The buff-colored envelope with the double-line POD/US watermark (Scott Wmk 1) envelope, probably Scott #U27, is missing its front panel and the stamped 3-cent indicia. It has minor stains and light soiling. There is light docketing that with photoshop manipulation appears to read, "Clay / Receiving / Billable Vouchers".

The $20 banknote proof was intended to be issued by the [Slave] Traders Bank of the City of Richmond, Virginia. It features a portrait of Henry Clay and vignettes of slave picking cotton and a well-to-do lady at her spinning wheel with what appears to be a factory, perhaps a cotton mill, from the city's Manchester Industrial District in the background. Very good. Item #009559

Richmond slave traders, William H. Betts and E. J. Gregory became partners in May of 1860, forming an auction company, "Betts & Gregory" which was located on Franklin Street in the heart of Shockoe Bottom, Richmond's bustling 30-block slave-trading district. It is unclear when the firm ceased operation, although public records show that it began having financial problems after the election of President Lincoln in November, when Richmond slave prices dropped by as much a 50%. That said, the traders apparently recovered, at least for a while, as the firm was still advertising in Southern newspapers as late as September of 1861.

The Traders Bank was founded in February of 1860 by Hector Davis and thirteen other slave traders, including William H. Betts. An earlier issue of the same design was printed in black ink. This never-released issue was probably printed just before the bank closed, perhaps at the time Richmond was captured by the Union Army. It is listed in Haxby's Standard Catalog of U. S. Obsolete Bank Notes as VA-195-G6. (Reprint sets of five Traders Bank bills in this same green color were also printed on cardstock.)

Traders Bank Notes are occasionally obtainable from eBay or numismatic auctions, and a few libraries hold Betts & Gregory slave sale documents. However, advertising envelopes from any slave trading firm are rare. At the time of listing, OCLC shows none in institutional collections. A similar postally-used entire envelope from another Richmond slave trader sold at a 2019 Harmer-Schau Auction for $6,900. Although missing its front panel, this desirable and presentable slave trader advertising envelope to include the bank note is priced accordingly.

Price: $1,250.00