THE FIRST UTAH PRINTING – 1849 MORMOM CURRENCY SIGNED BY THREE IMPORTANT EARLY CHURCH LEADERS
BRIGHAM YOUNG. American Mormon leader; directed and superintended the mass migration of the Mormons to Great Salt Lake Valley in Utah; first governor of the Territory of Utah.
A partly printed fifty-cent Mormon currency note, issued to N.K. Whitney and Signed by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Thomas Bullock. Measuring 3 * inches wide by 2 inches high, the bill bears the date G.S.L. [Great Salt Lake] City, Jan. 20, 1849 and the embossed seal with the Mormon mitre and key device.
The burgeoning Mormon settlements in the Salt Lake Valley (in what had originally been Mexico) soon felt the need for a convenient medium of exchange. [Until the Civil War, the United States had no national currency; most of the nation’s coins and paper currency were privately minted.]
The vanguard of the exodus from the Ohio/Illinois area, led by Brigham Young, arrived in what would become Salt Lake City on July 24th, 1847 (a date now celebrated as Pioneer Day). They began building the roads, bridges, forts and irrigation projects for the families who followed them to what was envisioned as a Mormon homeland.
The issue of currency was dealt with by establishing a church mint in 1848. It was located in a small adobe building on the northeast corner of Brigham Street (South Temple) and Main. A battalion of young Mormons went to California to secure gold dust for the church coffers. The loss resulting from repeated weighing led Brigham Young in early 1849 to order the printing of paper currency.
The first bills were issued in denominations of 50 cents, $1, $2, $3 and $9, using a small hand-press which had been brought overland in a covered wagon. In January 1849, Truman Angell, church architect, made a press that could print paper money. On January 20, a total of $3,329 bills in 50 cents, $1, $2, $3 and $9, modeled after the handwritten and partly printed ones issued earlier, were printed. These bills are the earliest known examples of Utah printing. As the currency was redeemable in gold, few of these early Mormon notes have survived.
Paper currency was signed by Brigham Young and usually two other officials of the church, often Heber C. Kimball (Brigham Young’s counselor). Kimball was instrumental in founding the city of Nauvoo in Illinois and helping to build the temple there. After Joseph Smith’s assassination in 1844, when succession to the leadership of the church was a divisive issue, Kimball became a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He was next in leadership to Brigham Young and was called to the new First Presidency in 1847. Kimball led one of three large companies to the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1848.
Thomas Bullock was a private clerk to Joseph Smith and, after his assassination, to the general conference of the church. In 1847, he traveled with the initial Mormon pioneer company to the Salt Lake Valley. Bullock served as assistant to the Church Historian and Recorder (and was responsible for writing some portions of History of the Church), as clerk to the Council of Fifty, the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, the Utah Territorial Legislature, and as an occasional clerk to Brigham Young. Framed (with an original color postcard photograph) dimensions: 10 inches wide by 14 inches high.
This item is associated with these categories in our inventory:
- Western Americana