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    

Rare March 1776 New Jersey 12 Shillings British Colonial Bank Note CurrencyBenjamin Franklin Printed Colonial Currency, 6/18/1764. Great Cond. See Pics$2 1780 Massachusetts Colonial Currency Pcgs 55 John J Ford CollectionTwelve Pence - Boston Printed By John Gill - October 1776 - One Shilling 1774 Two Thirds Of A Dollar Us Banknote Colonial Currency Annapolis MarylandRhode Island May 1786 3s Colonial Currency Uncirculated 62 Pmg Beautiful Note!Benjamin Franklin Printed Colonial Currency Notes, 1758 &1764, Twenty ShillingsPhiladelphia Sept 1778 $40 Colonial Currency Ch. Vf 35 Pmg Beautiful Note!Continental Colonial Currency Paper Money Ten 10 Shillings Pennsylvania 17731771 One Pound Province Of North Carolina Colonial NoteColonial Rhode Island 3s Shillings May 1786 Au 50 Pmg Lovely Print Quality!Pennsylvania October 1, 1773 20s Colonial Currency Au55 Pmg - Awesome Note!Va 118. Colonial Currency May 5th 1777 Average Circulated1 Pound 1771 North Carolina Colonial Currency Pcgs 40 Ursa Minor ConstilationUs 1776 Continental Currency Two Dollars Pennsylvania Nov. 3, 1776 Vg+1771 $2 Pound Colonial North Carolina Currency! Vf 20 Apparent! Cv $200 In Vf!Continental Colonial Currency Paper Money Three 3 Shillings New Jersey 1756Nov 2, 1776 $8 Continental Currency Note May 23, 1793 Serie 3308 - Genuine French Revolution Assignat 50 Sols Bank NoteCc-75 Continental Currency Eight Dollars 4-11-1778 Original F/vf Punch CancelContinental Colonial Currency Paper Money Two 2 Shilling Six 6 Pence ConnecticutColonial Currency 20 Shillings Delaware 1776Dec 1771 North Carolina 5 Shillings Colonial Currency Note Paper Money Pcgs 40Colonial Two Dollar Note. Maryland. April 10, 1774. Vf+Colonial Connecticut Forty Shillings Note. July 1st, 1775. FColonial Bill Of 8 Dollars Copy From April, 1774