Louis Van Belkum

Year of Induction: 

Mr. Van Belkum was SPMC member # 707 and received the Nathan Gold award in 1976. He was a school teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His main interest was National Banknotes. He started his research by him and his wife Barbara undertaking marathon driving trips to DC, whereupon they wrote frantically and doggedly eventually assemble some 5,000 type-written pages of data.The birth of the modern era of national bank note collecting can be definitively fixed at 1968 when Louis Van Belkum's landmark National Banks of the Note Issuing Period, 1863-1935 was published. This book, which summarized the history of every note-issuing bank, also listed the final circulations for the banks. The information in the book was abstracted from the endless tables found in 67 annual reports of the Comptroller of the Currency. But that was only the beginning of his monumental contribution to national bank note research. Over the next 11 years, from 1968 to 1979, he and his wife Barbara compiled the bank-by-bank issuance data for every note-issuing bank in the country. This Herculean task at last count involved tracking 12,631 different banks that issued 81,259 different sheet combinations over a period of 67 years. To compile this enormous trove of data, they had to sift through 410 huge ledgers housed at the National Archives, which were then located in Washington, DC, but now in College Park, Maryland.