This month saw San Luis Potosi join my Mexican States set which also allowed the Banco de San Luis Potosi to fill another gap in the Impossible Set. Given that ‘Potosi’ was only added to the State name at a later date to highlight the importance of silver and gold mining to the region, it seems only appropriate to add a bank more closely tied to the famous Bolivian silver mine – the Banco de Potosi.
Knowing there were some notes from other Mexican and Bolivia banks buried in my collection I decided to concentrate on these two countries for July. As a result, the Tesoreria de la Republica de Bolivia, Banco Mercantil and the Banco Central de Bolivia expanded the Bolivian group in the Set. Unlike most of the banks in the Impossible set, which no longer exist, the last two are still operating. The central bank has the sole responsibility for the Bolivian currency and the Banco Mercantil merged with the Banco Santa Cruz only a few years ago, in 2006, forming the Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz, which still plays a major role in the finance sector of Bolivia.
The opposite end of banking longevity is evident by the selection of the extra Mexican banks. Like many of the short-lived private banks, which ultimately make up the Impossible Set, it is specimen notes and proofs, rather than issued notes, that are the only remaining testament to their plans. The Banco Mexicano de Comercio e Industria, a branch spin-off from what is now Deutsche Bank, was one that didn’t fare so with global events overtaking plans to issue their own notes, so the example included in the set is a specimen 1000 pesos note, and is one of my favourite designs, as it is reminiscent of the classical Three Graces of British numismatics. The other Mexican notes is a local low denomination issue by a major company, essential for day-to-day commerce during the Revolutionary period.
I am delighted to have been able to add 7 new ‘banks’ to the Impossible Set during July and also begin to uncover their history and the fascinating stories of the places and people involved. So far, it appears that every new note has the potential to be the start of a bigger research project, so that is 52 projects so far !