Fig. 1. Photo of Frank C. Berek in 1919. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.
Copyright © 2011-2018 John N. Lupia III
Frank C. Berek (1886-?), AKA Frank Brighter was born in Poland 1886, son of German-Poles. When he came to America is uncertain since he also claimed to have been born in South America. He worked as a tailor, photographer, and printer. His area of specialization was Federal Reserve Bank Notes. He liked them so much he began counterfeiting them in Seattle, Washington while in business with his partner Hans Groosli, both men owning a tailing shop. Berek was imprisoned in 1914 in the federal penitentiary on McNeil's Island for counterfeiting $5 and $20 Notes of the Bank of Montreal, Canada. He was released in 1918 and immediately began counterfeiting $100 Federal Reserve Notes of the Bank of Dallas, Texas. He was soon arrested and taken prisoner but escaped on a train en route to McNeil's Island. The Evening Tribune, Saturday, August 10, 1918, page 8 reported :
"the workmanship of the counterfeit bills is of the highest order, the red silk lines in the back being imitated perfectly by the use of ink. The paper and printing are first class, and the vignette of Franklin on the face of the note is of such a character that it would disarm suspicion anywhere. The quality of the work is indicated by the fact that one of the bills was presented to two banks in San Diego, and after a critical examination the bank officers were not willing to declare that the bill was bogus."
Fig. 2. Post Card circular of Frank Berek issued by the Post Office, postmarked March 8, 1919, San Francisco, California. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library.
Fig. 3. News report on Frank Berek published March 22, 1919, Evening Tribune, San Diego, California, page 7.
No newspaper notice appeared subsequently informing the public he was captured. No further information about Frank Berek has been found. Anyone with any information of the whereabouts of Frank Berek please inform, no, not the police, I'm sure he passed away by now, but rather, write me or Wayne Homren, editor of the E-Sylum and post what you have.
Evening Tribune, Saturday, August 10, 1918, page 8
Los Angeles Times, Sunday, August 11, 1918, page 15
San Bernardino County Sun, Wednesday, February 19, 1919, page 5
Evening Tribune, Saturday, March 22, 1919, page 7