Wechsel - a Bill of Exchange from 1897

"What is this?" asked an APS member - "In particular who wrote it, who got the money, and where."

The front:

Front of Wechsel

The back:

Back of Wechsel

The item is 285 x 113 mm, printed on thin paper such that the reverse shows through. If you click on the images above you'll get a MUCH larger version!

JLW explained it thus: It is a (Foreign) Bill of Exchange (Wechsel). It was made out by Albert Hoffmann & Co. in Görlitz (Prussian Silesia) on 13 Oct 1897 for "fr 1159 en or", that is 1159 francs in gold. It was to become due on 19 May 1898 and payable to M. Pavli Flamourakis of Chios. Chios was an island in the Aegean, which belonged to Turkey, it being at the start of the passage into Smyma.

In order for the German Bill charge to be assessed, the sum must be converted to marks. 100 marks equalled 125 francs, so the charge was 927.20 marks. This fell between 800 and 1000 marks for which the bill charge was 50 pfennig. Hence the German Wechsel stamp of M.0.50 in olive dated 13 October 97.

The next event was that the Trieste branch of the Union bank bought the bill. On 11 Feb 1898, Albert Hoffmann & Co. signed on the back of the bill that they had received the value. This is the violet endorsement on the back immediately below the German bill stamp. The bill was then sent to Trieste.

A 20 heller Austrian Fiscal was applied and cancelled 16 Feb 1898 at the Hauptzollamt in Triest. This was a fixed duty of some kind, but what I do not know. It was less than the Bill tax of 80h, but more than the receipt tax of 10h. A numbered handstamp of the Union bank was struck on the front of the bill in green. (See below for a brief explanation of the use of heller fiscals in 1898.)

On 7 May 1898, the bill was paid by the Union bank to the Austrian Lloyd in Triest, as shown by the red handstamps on the back lower centre. There is also a violet handstamp "SANS FRAIS", which means without reduction or fee.

On 9 May 1898 they paid it into the Austrian Lloyd account at Scio (Italian for Chios) and the bill duly got there on "6/18 May" 1898. This is indicated by the violet endorsements at the bottom of the back. [The 6 is the 18th May expressed in the Julian calendar!]

The following day, 19 May 1898, M. Flamourakis received the payment. This is indicated by the writing in Greek across the Turkish Bill stamp, on the front, which he has signed.

The adhesive is a Turkish Bill of Exchange stamp of 3 piastres. At the left, reading up, there is DE PIASTRES/4001-6000, i.e. the duty was 3 piastres for an amount of 4001-6000 piastres. Now, in 1908 the par value was that 22.875 francs equalled the Turkish Pound, which for commercial transactions was 108 piastres. Thus 1159 francs equals 5472 piastres, so it is within the range shown on the Turkish bill stamp.

The currency change from gulden/kreuzer to kronen/heller: The gold krone was introduced by a law of 1892. Its value was to be such that it was to equal 10d. British, ie the par of exchange would be 24 kronen = 1 sterling. Further, 2 new kronen were to equal 1 old gulden, thus recognising the around-16% drop in value of the gulden, which had actually occurred in 1859. It was quite a leisurely change, completed on 1 Jan 1900 when postal rates were altered. But, new fiscal stamps were issued from 1 Jan 1898 and the tax rates were now in the new money. For example, the tax on a half-yearly school report of 15 kreuzer became 30 heller and I have a 30h of the new issue used in Jan 1898 on such a report. The use of the 20 heller on this Bill is thus quite an early use of the new fiscals.

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