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    

1776 United States Two Thirds Of A Dollar NoteJuly 22, 1776 United Colonies Thirty Dollar Note$30 1776 Continental Currency Pcgs 501779 North Carolina $5 Colonial Currency, May 15th, John Taylor And John Hunt1771 North Carolina, Two Shillings And Six Pence, Colonial Currency1776 United States Sixty Dollar Note1778 Continental Colonial Currency, Forty Dollars, September 26th, John Leacock1760 North Carolina 40 Shillings .... Pcgs Certified ...... No ReserveContinental Currency1776 Continental Currency $2 .... Pcgs Certified .... No Reserve(cc-38) May 9, 1776 $8 Continental Currency Note - No Reserve!1786 Rhode Island Twenty Shillings (pound) Colonial Currency, Legal Tender Note!1776 Continental Colonial Currency, Eight Dollars, May 9th Issue1773 Pennsylvania Twenty Shillings Colonial Currency, October 1st, Isaac WhartonMay 1786 6 Shillings Rhode Island Colonial Note Pmg Au 501776 Continental Currency Four Dollars Pennsylvania May 9, 1776 Avf1778 Continental Colonial Currency, Fifty Dollars, September 26th Issue3 Cents Fractional Currency Note - Act Of Mar 1863Old Collection Of Colonial, Fractional,& Confederate & Obsolete Currency 8 PcsJan 1 1863 Us J.m. Wiest Fifty Cent Note Jan 1, 1776 Twenty Shillings Delaware Colonial Currency Fine Condition,intact Colonial Currency-april 10th,1777-20 Shillings-philadelphia-john Dunlap Rarity !United States, Pennsylvania Colonial Currency 1776 Two Shillings Paper Money1774 Maryland $8 Colonial Currency, Eight Dollars, April 10th, Clapham, Eddis 2Rare 1/4 Sheet 40 Shillings Colonial Currency-rhode Island-1786-choice Unc. !!!September 26th 1778 Five Dollars Hall & Sellers Philadelphia Colonial CurrencyColonial Note Ben Franklin 8$ Vintage Bay20 1976 $2 Notes - C0nsecutive Order - A09406110a Thru A09406129a Uncirculated 1776 Continental Currency CoinMaryland August 14th 1776 One Dollar Colonial Currency$7.00 Us Contenental Currency 17771775 Three Dollars Colonial Currency Note Hall & Sellers1776 Colonial Us 18 Eighteen Pence Paper Currency. Maryland March 1st 1770 Two Dollars Colonial Currency1775 Two Dollar Note Colonial Currency Hall & Sellers