The Michigan State Numismatic Society


By Frank Passic LM-157

The Mich-Matist, Winter 1999, pp. 43, 45, 47.


byFrank Passic LM-157

The Mich-Matist, Winter 1999, pp. 43, 45, 47.

Two Dollar Note (Face)

A previously unreported "college scrip" note from Albion, Michigan has surfaced, issued by the Albion Business College and dated 1863. The $2.00 denomination is a new discovery, and completes a matching set of the $1.00 and $5.00 notes previously reported.

The hand cut note measures 182 x 72 mm., and is uniface. The text reads, "BUSINESS COLLEGE BANK, the Albion Business College will pay the bearer on demand Two Dollars in tuition. On receipt of a sufficient consideration. Albion, Nov. (handwritten day date) 20, 1863. (facsimile signatures) Ira Mayhew, President. Charles E. Slocum, Cashier. State of Michigan." Below to the left is the name of the printer, "Ed. Mendel, Chicago."

The central illustration contains a farming scene with cattle and pigs. The left portion of the scene depicts a tree with a boy and girl beneath it. The far left illustration depicts a steam train engine with the smoke billowing out at the top. This is the exact same scene that appears on the $5.00 denomination. On the far right is a depiction of Americana, standing in regalia with the emblem "USA" in the breast area. The denomination "TWO" is spelled out in the upper right and upper left corners. No numeral "2" appears on the note, in contrast to the "1" and "5" on the other denominations. The word "No." for "number" appears above the word "Business," and a line area with a handwritten serial number "15" appears to the left of the upper-right "TWO."

The $1.00 denomination note is cataloged as "MI-150-1" in the book College Currency (see bibliography), while the $5.00 note is listed as "MI-180-5." The $1.00 and $2.00 denomination notes bear a title of "The Albion Business College," while the $5.00 note contains the phrase, "The Albion Commercial College." The text on all notes indicate that these could be used towards tuition at the school.

Ira Mayhew (1814-1894) came to Michigan from New York in 1843, and was a highly recognized educator. From 1845 to 1849 he was Michigan’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and again from 1854 to 1859. In 1853 Mayhew was elected principal of the Albion Seminary, the first non-clergyman to hold the position. Mayhew guided the infant Wesleyan Seminary and Female Collegiate Institute, which at the time consisted of eight faculty members. This educational institution was renamed Albion College in 1861.

Ira opened his business school in Howard Hall, a third-story meeting room above 204 S. Superior St. in downtown Albion. Called the Albion Commercial College, Mayhew utilized his well popular 1851 book, Mayhew’s Practical Book-keeping" which by 1873 was in its 90th printing. The school became quickly established and soon moved to the third floor of the Peabody Block, 400 S. Superior St. There Mayhew operated it along with his daughters Ellen, Emma, and Fanny until 1868. Token collectors will recall the Civil War Store Card token issued by Ira Mayhew’s Commercial College (Fuld MI 25A-1a) dated 1863 which states in part, "Mayhew’s Practical Book-Keeping, The Cheapest and the Best."

Ira kept himself busy in Albion during the 1860s. He served as Albion Village president in 1861, and was appointed by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as the collector for Internal Revenue for the 3rd District of Michigan. Ira was also the "official agent" for Wheeler & Wilson’s sewing machines. His home, built in 1837 was located at 604 E. Erie St. in Albion, and is still standing today.

The business school suffered a fire on September 10, 1868, and the local newspaper made strong innuendos that the fire had been set so Ira that could collect insurance money. With a cloud of suspicion over his head, Ira moved his Commercial College to Detroit in 1869, where he personally operated it until 1883. At that time he sold it to P. R. Spencer, and it became known as "Spencerian Business College." Two years later it was brought under ownership of the Goldsmith Business University of Detroit. The two schools merged together in 1887 to form the Detroit Business University.

Mayhew continued on in his work, even in his advanced years. In 1893 he was placed in charge of school bookkeeping at Sprague University of Correspondence Instructions. He continued in this position until his death in April, 1894. Photos: $2 note, and a lithograph of Ira Mayhew.


Albion’s Banks and Bankers. Albion Historical Society, 1985.

Dr. Keith Fennimore, The Albion College Sesquicentennial History 1835-1985. Albion College, 1985.

George and Melvin Fuld. U.S. Civil War Store Cards. 1972.

"Numismatic History of Albion No. 20, Ira Mayhew’s Commercial College." Journal of Albion, 30 November 1985, pg. 9.

Herb and Martha Schingoethe. College Currency. BNR Press, 1993.