The Milwaukee Clearing House began to make plans to issue clearing house certificates on March 4, 1933 when Governor Schedeman ordered the closing of Wisconsin state banks. The Clearing House had issued scrip during the Panic of 1907.
The clearing house certificates were printed by the Gugler Lithographic Company in Milwaukee. Gugler also printed the Wisconsin Bank Scrip. The certificates began to be issued on March 11. They ceased distributing them 11 days later.
The clearing house certificates were printed in denominations of $1.00, $5.00, $10.00 and $20.00. A total of $32,000,000.00 was printed. Only $5,000,000.00 was issued. As of August 1934 $3,421.00 was still outstanding.
Specimens are known made from unfinished notes.
Three different serial number types were used. All three are shown in the above slideshow. There are 25 different hand signatures.
The printing and distribution of the certificates was described by Roy L. Stone, vice president of the First National Bank in an article in the March 7, 1933 edition of the Milwaukee Journal :
The banks of the Milwaukee clearing house and all other clearing houses throughout the country are now using their best efforts to put into the hands of the people an emergency currency to meet pay rolls and enable ordinary every-day business to be done. . . . This emergency currency is popularly known as clearinghouse certificates, and are issued by the banks of the Clearing House association against their own unpledged assets with a margin of at least 20 per cent.
These certificates will be retired at such time as currency returns to the banks in sufficient amount so that the need for substitute money disappears. It is the expectation that banks throughout the state of Wisconsin may acquire certificates by pledging securities with the Clearing House association.
Every safety precaution is being thrown around the physical preparation of these Clearing House certificates. The plant where they are being manufactured is heavily guarded day and night by our local police, who, by the way, are rendering exceptional service. Inside of the plant, the regular operators are giving every co-operation, working in shifts, 24 hours a day. Bank men are being utilized as checkers.
The raw stock, being under constant guard, is issued to the presses, where checkers and guards are stationed at each end of the mammoth cylinder presses as they grind out the full sheets with 30 impressions per sheet.
They are re-counted at this point and rushed to the cutting room, where they are rechecked and given one cut, making half sheets of 15 impressions, which size permits them to be put through the numbering machines, where the same precautions with guards and checkers at each end, take charge as the numbering machines rush them through.
They are then bundled in 1,000 sheets and rushed by armored truck under heavy police guard to the headquarters of the Milwaukee Clearing House association, where they are again checked in and issued to the signers who, working 24 hours a day in shifts, affix the manual counter-signatures which are required. The signing is all done while the certificates are still in sheet form.
When finally strapped and triple counted, the then currency is turned over to the Milwaukee Clearing House association to be issued by them to the member banks in exchange for the securities pledged, and the finished certificates reach the public through the banks in the same manner as currency.
The Milwaukee Clearing House certificates were issued by at least two upstate banks. Contemporary newspaper accounts indicate the certificates were issued by banks in Coleman in Marinette County and in Mosinee,