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Virginia Loan Office Certificate

May 13, 1780
Origin: America, Virginia, Williamsburg
OL: 5 5/8" OH: 3 7/8"
Paper and ink
Museum Purchase, Lasser Numismatics Fund
Acc. No. 2015-204
Virginia Loan Office certificate in the amount of $83.33 (or £25), made out to Fortunatus Crutchfield of Hanover, Virginia.
Label:In late 1777, when the Continental Congress passed a resolution urging the individual States to confiscate and sell off Loyalist-held property, Virginia responded with a more sensible policy. In looking forward to the return of both peace and commerce with Britain, the Commonwealth sought to avoid the onslaught of lawsuits which surely would have been filed had Virginia acted in accordance with Congress's wishes. Early in 1780 the Virginia Loan Office was established by act of Assembly, primarily set-up to sequester property held by British subjects. This policy allowed the owner to keep the title of said property, but the State would administer it until after the war, and keep all profits derived from it.

Another function of the Loan Office was to provide a vehicle for Virginians to pay debts owed to British subjects. All one had to do is show up at the office in Williamsburg (removed to Richmond in 1780) with ready money and specify to whom the funds were to be paid. By doing so the Commonwealth was officially assuming private debts while acquiring cash needed to finance the war, at 6% per annum, payable after the cessation of hostilities. Certificates such as this one for $83.33, equal to £25, were issued to the payee as proof that his debt was assumed by Virginia. This extremely rare example bears the signature of George Brooke, Virginia's Treasurer.

On May 13, 1780, Fortunatus Crutchfield of Hanover County received this certificate for paying into the Loan Office against his debt to Murdoch, Donald & Company of Glasgow, Scotland. Crutchfield, who operated a tobacco warehouse and a tavern, also served the Commonwealth during the Revolutionary War as Assistant Commissary of Purchases under Colonel William Aylett.

This certificate was printed in Williamsburg by John Clarkson and Augustine Davis, the sanctioned government printers, who generated such official forms. During the previous year, the duo assumed publication of the Virginia Gazette, and advertised a new set of attractive printing type, looking to drum up business. Perhaps the little crowns and shapes which form the borders of this certificate were created with these new type forms.

Provenance:From the Eric P. Newman collection.