The city of Superior issued scrip for a longer period of time than any other municipality in Wisconsin. Like other municipalities it suffered from the double whammy of declining real estate tax collections and money tied up in closed banks. A half million dollars of the city’s money was tied up in 1933.
Superior’s scrip also has the distinction of being the only scrip in Wisconsin that was counterfeited. You can read more about the counterfeit scrip here.
Superior’s first scrip issue was dated August 18, 1933. Since March 1, the city had been able to make its payroll only once. In August, $100,000.00 in scrip in denominations of $.25, $1.00 and $5.00 was paid out to employees for back wages. Additional issues were made in September and November 1933. There are conflicting reports of the total amount issued in 1933. One newspaper source indicates $450,000.00, another indicates $610,000.00 and the city itself reported $650,000.00.
Sufficient tax receipts came in in early 1934 that the city was able to retire the entire 1933 issue of scrip and go back to paying cash. The financial honeymoon was short-lived as the city was back on scrip by May when $100,000.00 in $.25, $1.00 and $5.00 notes were issued for payrolls. Additional scrip issues followed in June, July and November for a toal issue of $800,000.00 in 1934.
A March 7, 1935 piece in the Capital Times noted that the city was redeeming $25,000.00 of the $1,000,000.00 in scrip circulating at that time. All of this was retired by July 1935. But the city had to turn to scrip once again in September and October 1935 with a toal of $600,000.00 being issued that year.
The 1935 issue was retired in April 1936 only to have the city issue additional scrip in May 1936 with $100,000.00 being issued that month. By the end of the year $400,000.00 had been paid out.
The 1936 issue was retired by the summer of 1937 only to have $250,000.00 in $1.00, $5.00 and $10.00 notes issued in November. Merchants requested that $.25 notes be issued so that scrip could be given as change for scrip and the city obliged.
The next year brought more of the same but the needs declined with only $125,000.00 being issued in October 1938 after retiring the 1937 issue earlier in the year. In November 1938 the city announced that it was making its last scrip payroll.
But they were wrong. In April 1939 an additional $100,000.00 was paid out. Local merchants had had enough and in May a group of 50 merchants announced they would no longer accept scrip. But this did not deter the city who issued an additional $100,000.00 in October.
The 1939 scrip issues would be the last but not because the city was on better financial footing. The locals were rebelling and a commercial organization was formed that was wiling to bring the city to court if additional scrip was issued. Both the city and Douglas County ended their long scrip runs in the face of this opposition.