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October 2006

Release Date: October 12, 2006

Mucho Dinero Given to ASU's West Texas Collection

A collection of rare paper money from the Mexican Revolution has been donated to the West Texas Collection at Angelo State University by a Dallas collector and his wife.

Elmer and Diane Powell have given the 676 individual pieces of money to the West Texas Collection. The gift includes paper currency printed between 1910-17 during the turbulent years of the Mexican Revolution.

The donation enhances a growing collection of Mexican Revolution-era research materials available for study and research in the West Texas Collection, according to Suzanne Campbell, who heads the ASU archive.

Elmer Powell, a lifelong student of Texas history, began collecting Republic of Texas canceled currency in the early 1970s and later expanded his collection to include money from across the Rio Grande when he "realized the significance of the Spanish and Mexican history as it relates to Texas."

Powell said, "I became fascinated with the realization that as Revolutionary generals would capture a town or area they would print scrip (money) to pay their troops and in turn purchase merchandise or supplies from the local merchants."

The collection includes money printed under the authority of Pancho Villa, Lucio Blanco, Alvaro Obregon, Louis Caballero and Emiliano Zapata from El Banco Revolucionario de Guerrero. As the federal forces would retake a town or area many of the bills would be overprinted with a validation stamp to show that the currency was legal tender under the current authorities. Many items in the collection are stamped several times as the armies retook an area.

Because of revolution-era shortages, any type of paper such as old ledger pages or even oil cloth or linen from lamp shades would be used to print money. If it was paper and the ink would not run off, it was used to print money.

"This is a major gift to the West Texas Collection," said Campbell. "The collection augments what is becoming one of the major repositories of borderland research materials for the period between 1870 and 1940. We are most grateful to the Powells for their generosity and for sharing their commitment to preserving Southwestern history with Angelo State and the West Texas Collection."

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