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Published: Friday, 3/23/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

New exhibit at Main Library worth 'checking' out

BY ROSE RUSSELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kathryn Fell, Development Coordinator at Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Sharon Speyer, of the Huntington Bank Corp., and Shannon Loar-Tenney,  look at the collection of cancelled checks from former U.S. presidents at the Toledo Public Library. Kathryn Fell, Development Coordinator at Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Sharon Speyer, of the Huntington Bank Corp., and Shannon Loar-Tenney, look at the collection of cancelled checks from former U.S. presidents at the Toledo Public Library.
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History buffs will be enthralled with the canceled checks written by former U.S. presidents that go on display Monday at the Main Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

The exhibit includes checks from George Washington, seven of Ohio's eight presidents, and an $800 check that Abraham Lincoln wrote to "Self" two days before he was assassinated.

"It's quite a coup for the library," said Jill Gregg Clever, manager of the library's local history and genealogy departments. "Having the collection in existence is a wealth of historical value. The collection is priceless."

The exhibit of the collection of 16 checks will be at The Blade Rare Book Room of the Local History and Genealogy Department through April 28. The canceled documents are part of a collection of 70 checks written by other notable historical figures.

The collection belongs to the Huntington Bank and is appraised at more than $70,000. The checks were in a collection owned by John Sherwin, director of Cleveland's former Union Trust Bank, which in the late 1930s became the Union Commerce Bank. It was purchased by the Huntington Bank in 1983.

While appraisers place the fair market value of Lincoln's check at $25,000, the priciest in the collection, a check written by every Ohio president except Rutherford B. Hayes is in the collection.

Warren G. Harding check from the collection. Warren G. Harding check from the collection.
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Warren G. Harding's $100 check No. 209 written to Mrs. Harding on Dec. 26, 1916, was drawn on the Riggs National Bank of Washington. Endorsed by Mrs. Harding, it was appraised at $500.

In a note dated Dec. 1, 1917, William H. Taft wrote a check for $75 to his wife, Helen. The check is appraised at $400.

William Henry Harrison's 1810 check to the Bank of the United States for $34.95 has an appraised value of $1,000.

FDR signed a check as governor of New York when he wrote one to William Carter on Jan. 5, 1931, for $1.56. Drawn on the Union Trust Co. of Albany, its value was placed at $400.

Six months prior to his death, Washington wrote a check dated May 31, 1799, for $500 to William Thornton. Appraisers put its worth at $10,000.

"Our goal by having them on display is that it might spark some interest in grabbing additional information [from the library] about the presidents," Shannon Loar-Tenney said from her Toledo office.

William Howard Taft check. William Howard Taft check.
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As Huntington's regional marketing and communications manager for northwest Ohio, Ms. Loar-Tenney played a role in bringing the collection to Toledo, where it will be exhibited for the longest period of time. During the last year, it has travelled to Pittsburgh, other Ohio cities, Indianapolis, and Grand Rapids, Mich. Bank officials say public interest has exceeded expectations. As a result, they are exploring taking it outside its market, to such cities as New York and Washington.

Other checks in the collection were written by other presidents, military officials, signers of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. There are checks written by a Chief Justice of the United States, associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and others by authors, poets, novelists, and an inventor and a composer.

Among some of the other most readily recognizable historical figures whose canceled checks are in the collection are Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Gershwin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Mark Twain, and Daniel Webster.

Contact Rose Russell at rrussell@theblade.com or 419-724-6178.



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