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"National Bank of Merit" Four Shares of Stock to the Holder Minnie Flagg
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Throughout the 19th century, children were given rewards of merit for high achievement or good behavior in school. These were commercial products that ranged from the very simple to the large and colorful. The example here was printed by a New York engraver, Benjamin Stradley, who issued similar rewards from around 1870 until sometime after 1878. The reward here is patterned after bank notes of the day and used their printing techniques. Stradley printed a number of other "stock certificates" from the fictional "National Bank of Merit," in various denominations. This particular form of reward came at a time when the New York stock market was growing in size and influence. Periodic panics and crashes in the 1880s, though, would later reduce its credibility. Flagg was awarded four shares in the "National Bank of Merit" by her teacher, M.L. Davenport, in the 1870s.
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