Say you wanted to read a copy of the booklet How to Detect Counterfeits, by Louis Albert Hill, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, published in 1927. Or wanted to examine one of those portly Corliss safes and see why the design was so favored by bankers and bond men at the turn of the century. Or see one of the Signature Co.'s famed signature machines. Or take a look at some Confederate States of America debt, coupons still attached. Where would you go?

The truth is, you'd be pretty much on your own, because there is no single repository of American financial history. But that won't be the case for long.

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