US Colonial and Continental Currency

Until the Massachusetts Bay Colony issued the first paper currency in 1690, money in the colonies was limited to British and Spanish coins. Indeed, the Spanish dollar, known as a "piece of eight," was the dominant coin of the New World. But a shortage of coins made transactions difficult, so unofficial paper money was printed.

The Colonial paper issued between 1690 in Massachusetts and 1788 in New York included bills engraved by Paul Revere — an image of a codfish graces one side of his bills for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Pennsylvania was the first colony to allow its citizens to use their land as collateral for loans of currency. Benjamin Franklin, who helped create the Pennsylvania paper, believed that it was the British government’s decision to take away the currency of its colonies that most contributed to the Revolutionary War.

During that war, the fledging nation financed its army by issuing Continentals, printed on Benjamin Franklin’s press, in 1775. Like Colonial currency, Continentals were backed by neither gold nor silver—it was promise of future tax revenues alone that was supposed to give investors confidence.

Nor surprisingly, it didn’t, and the Continentals were quickly devalued. At one point, holders of Continentals were getting two and a half cents on the dollar for their paper. As George Washington himself said, "A wagonload of Continentals will hardly purchase a wagonload of provisions." Collectors do much better today.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

American Currency Exhibit

American Currency Exhibit

This collection, from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, covers currency from 1690 through half a dozen era… [read review or visit site]

Bank Note Bank

Bank Note Bank

This world banknote and currency image-sharing database is notable for its breadth of contributors and content (abo… [read review or visit site]

Two Cent Revenue Stamped Paper

Two Cent Revenue Stamped Paper

Everything you'd ever want to know about revenue stamped paper (first authorized in 1862). This site features infor… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1s 1786 Rhode Island Colonial Currency Pcgs Vf35 Monster Embossing1759 - New Jersey - Colonial Currency - 30 Shillings Note - Vf$55 1779 Continental Currency Cc-98 Pcgs Vf35 Epq Stunning Black & RedU.s. Continental Currency - Half A Dollar - Feb. 1776 - History In Your HandsContinental Currency, 1776, United Colonies, Three Dollars, PhiladelphiaColonial Currency Virginia Four Dollars 1777 Revolutionary War Financial NotePennsylvania, 2 Shillings, April, 1777, John Dunbar Printer1763 12 Shillings New Jersey Colonial Note *free Shipping After First Item*$300 1780 Virginia Colonial Currency Va-194 Pcgs Au50 New Jersey Colonial 15s 3/25/1776 -- Pcgs Choice About New 58Colonial Currency, 1774, Maryland, Four Dollars, Green PrinterJune 19th 1776 Five Shillings Connecticut Colonial Currency Note Old Paper MoneySuper High Grade $1200 Virginia Colonial 1781 Banknote! ("sun, Moon & Stars")1778, 7 Shillings And 6 Pence, South Carolina Colonial NoteNew Jersey 3 Shillings Colonial Note March 25,1776, Rare Low # 402,vfColonial Currency, 1774, Maryland, Eight Dollars, Green PrinterBeautiful 1756 Colonial Large Penny Excavated....1778 3 Shillings And 9 Pence South Carolina Colonial NoteFrench Revolution Assignat 15 Sols Bank Notes Jan. 04, 1792 Original Serie 1631 Continental Currency, 1776, Delaware, Five Shillings, Revolutionary War1781, Pair Of Revolutionary War Interest Bonds, John Lawrence Signed1776 $7.00 Continental Currency - May 9, 1776 - Hall & Sellers PrintersUs 1776 Continental Currency Six-pence Connecticut Avf 1776Bank Of Tecumseh, Mich.. $1.00 Bank Note 1833 IssuedHgr 1780 $2 Rare Colonial ""massachusetts-bay"" 234 Years Old!!Genuine French Revolution Assignat 10 Sous Bank Notes January 4, 1792 Serie:14161771 Pre-revoluionary War Colonial Nc 5 Schilling Note - Own It! French Revolution Assignat 15 Sols Bank Notes Oct. 24, 1792 Original Serie 1417.Usa - Virginia (whu2) Pic S3683 - 10 Oct 1862 $10 Treasury Note - Vf +April 3, 1772 Pennsylvania 6 Pence Colonial Note King George IiiPatapsco Savings Fund, Baltimore, Md. $1.00 Bank Note 1840 IssuedPhiladelphia Colonial Currency 1776 $8 And 1778 $5 Dollars = 2 Pcs.Pennsylvania October 1,1773 18d1765, Connecticut Treasurer, Talcott, Signed Bills Of Exchange, Seven Years War