This week’s “Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor” is all about the year 1983. Think back…what do you remember about 1983, or 35 years ago? It was the year of great landmarks for women, as American Sally Ride became the first woman in space and Margaret Thatcher won a landslide victory as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Cabbage Patch Dolls were first beginning to be sold (with great success) and the final episode of M*A*S*H aired with a record number of 125 million viewers glued to the screen. Here in New Hampshire, you may not recall much specifically from 1983, but one local Laconia resident’s makeshift bookmark during that time period gave us a little peek into an interesting (and valuable) part of NH history.
Nestled into the pages of a 1983 copy of John Steinbeck’s classic, “The Grapes of Wrath” was a bank deposit slip of a Laconia man whose account was at Indian Head National Bank in Laconia (“in Laconia” was part of the entire name of the bank). The institution was founded in 1892 and existed until the year…you can guess this one…1983. The bank deposit slip was from that very year, as well (somebody buy a lottery ticket, already!).
Never heard of this bank? Well, after existing for almost 100 years, it was merged with the Indian Head National Bank of Nashua in 1983. Here is the most interesting part: during its existence, the Indian Head National Bank of Nashua printed 26 different types and denominations of national currency, some of which is very rare and valuable today. This includes the hard-to-find $2 bill printed in 1875, $10 bills from the same year pen-signed by both the then- president and cashier at the bank, and original $50 national bank notes – of which only 35 are known to exist today in total from all banks in the country. Find any of these rarities and you can go straight to Antiques Road Show without passing “go” and you will certainly collect a great deal more than $200!
So, what happened to Indian Head National Bank of Nashua, the institution that is responsible for such valuable currency, you may be asking? Ahh, corporate takeovers. Fleet Bank purchased the institution in 1989 and in 2005, Fleet Bank was bought out by Bank of America. While The Indian Head National Bank of Nashua (and Laconia) may be gone, it doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t still hunt for its valuable currency!
Steinbeck’s 1983 copy of “The Grapes of Wrath” is for sale here at Bayswater for $4.99 and includes the deposit slip. You can catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor at bayswaterbooks.com and on facebook. Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!