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    

Us 1776 Two Dollar Bill February 17, 1776 Certified 15 Choice Fine Pmg Colonial Currency, Delaware. June 1, 1759. 15 Shillings. Benjamin Franklin IssueChoice Uncirculated Continental Currency 1777 $8.00 Baltimore Issue Rare So NiceColonial Currency Pennsylvania One Shilling 1775 Note Printed By Hall & Sellers1778 South Carolina Five Shillings Colonial Note *free S/h After First Item*State Of Massachusetts Bay Dec. 1, 1777 Interest Bearing BondColonial Currency. Declaration Signer John Morton Signed 1772 Pennsylvania NoteUncut Sheet Of 1789 Oliver Wolcott Receipts For Hartford Conn.1775 Philadelphia Five Dollar Colonial Currency NoteColonial Currency, Nj. June 9, 1780. Signed David Brearley + Philemon DickinsonState Of Penn October 25th 1775 9 Pence Colonial NoteColonial Currency North Carolina In Two Pieces And Helt Togeth By Pin.Pmg 25 Net Cc-35 Continental Currency May 9, 1775 $51778 South Carolina Seven Shillings And Six Pence Colonial Note1 Oct 1773 Pennsylvania 20 Twenty Shillings Colonial Currency Hall & Sellers Coa1896 El Banco Espanol De La Isla 5 Pesos American Bank Note Co. New York ScarceAnapolis, Maryland - 1767 - Six Dollars Colonial Currency Note - Jonas Green1778 South Carolina Ten Shillings Colonial Note *free Shipping After First Item*June 1, 1775 South Carolina 10 Pound Note1778 South Carolina Three Shillings And Nine Pence Colonial NotePmg 20 Net Cc-88 Continental Currency Jan. 14 1779 $2Maryland Colonial Currency March 1, 1770 $2 Note Low Grade1896 El Banco Espanol De La Isla 5 Centavos American Bank Note Co. New York South Carolina Colonial Currency Ten Pounds, June 1, 1775 (repaired)1896 El Banco Espanol De La Isla 1 Peso American Bank Note Co. New York ScarcePhila. Colonial Currency, May 9, 1776, $4 Fair Condition Edge Faults, Thins Wear 1779 Continental Currency One Ninth Of A Dollar Annapolis, Maryland, 1779Genuine French Revolution Assignat 10 Sous Bank Notes January 4, 1792 Serie: 924French Revolution Assignat 15 Sols Bank Notes Jan. 04, 1792 Original Serie 1268.Colonial Currency, Delaware. June 1, 1759 2s6d. By Ben Franklin, Blank ReversePmg 30 Net Cc-45 Continental Currency July 22,1776 $81778 South Carolina Two Shillings And Six Pence Colonial NoteState Of Maryland April 10th 1774 $2 Colonial NoteAnapolis, Maryland - 1770 - Half Dollar Colonial Currency Note - Green - Nr!June 19th 1776 One Shilling Six-pence Colonial Currency Note Old Paper MoneyFrench Revolution Assignat 15 Sols Bank Notes Jan. 04, 1792 Original Serie 1371.