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.


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1778 Paul Revere Engraved & Printed Massachusetts 3 Shillings Colonial Note GoodUs 1775 Continental Currency Three Dollars Pennsylvania 10th May, 1775 F+ 1777 Pennsylvania 4 Pence Colonial NoteTt Obsolete 1776 Delaware Colonial Currency 6 Shillings De-78 Pcgs 66 Ppq Gem!1776 $7 Continental Currency1776 New Jersey Twelve Shillings Colonial Currency NoteCc-12 $2.00 Continental Currency November 29th, 1775 Average Circulated$2 1777 Continental Currency Pcgs 40Cc-10 $30. Continental Currency May 10th, 1775 Average Circulated Very FineMaryland Md-58 6 Dollars 3/1/1770Oct. 1 1773 5 Shillings Pennsylvania FineTt Obsolete 1776 Delaware Colonial Currency 6 Shillings De-78 Pcgs 67 Ppq Superb1780 5 Shillings Connecticut Colonial CurrencyTt Obsolete 1776 Delaware Colonial 5 Shillings De-77 Pcgs 63 Ppq Choice New!Tt Obsolete 1776 4 Shillings Delaware Colonial Currency Pcgs 64 Very Choice New!Tt Obsolete 1776 Delaware Colonial 10 Shillings De-79 Pcgs 58 Ppq Choice NewMaryland March 1, 1770 $8 Colonial Note Pcgs Xf4520 Shillings 1777 Pennsylvania Colonial Currency Pcgs 251758 Holland 2 Sutiver "hollandia Dutch American Colonial" New York Dime CoaTt Obsolete 1776 Delaware Colonial 5 Shillings De-77 Pcgs 64 Ppq Very Choice New20 Shillings Connecticut Colonial Currency Pcgs 53January 14, 1779 Colonial Currency $40 NoteNational Bank Philippines 5 Pesos 1921 Pmg 63Tt Obsolete 1776 4 Shillings Delaware Colonial Currency Pcgs 58 Ppq Choice!Maryland March 1,1770 $4 Colonial NoteHgr 1780 $7 Colonial ((massachusetts)) Au - UncirculatedMaryland August 14, 1776 $1/2 Colonial Note Pmg F121780 Holland 2 Sutiver "hollandia Dutch American Colonial" New York Dime Coa1775 $3 Dollar Colonial Currency NoteJanuary 14, 1779 Colonial Currency $30 Note1792 Holland 2 Sutiver "hollandia Dutch American Colonial" New York Dime Coa1744 Holland 2 Sutiver "hollandia Dutch American Colonial" New York Dime Coa1863 $5 North Carolina, Raleigh State Of North Carolina Note! Pmg 58 Epq! #lvcMa.- 280 Colonial $3.00 May 5th, 1780 Sharp Original Au, Spindle Cancelled1786 Nine Pence State Of Rhode Island NotePcgs About New 50 May 9, 1776 $7 Continental Currency 1778 Holland 2 Sutiver "hollandia Dutch American Colonial" New York Dime CoaPcgs Ef 40 September 26, 1778 $8 Continental Currency 1779 Holland 2 Sutiver "hollandia Dutch American Colonial" New York Dime Coa1790 Holland 2 Sutiver "hollandia Dutch American Colonial" New York Dime Coa1777 Early American Colonial Currency Six Shillings Commonwealth PennsylvaniaPcgs Vf 20 Jan 14, 1779 $35 Continental Currency