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    

Continental Congress Note. February 17, 1776. Four Dollars. Choice Very Fine1776 $2/3 Continental Currency, Massachusetts May 25, 1775. 12 Shillings Paul Revere EngravedBenjamin Franklin Printed Colonial Currency Note, Delaware. June 1, 1759. 15s Continental Currency Note. September 26, 1778. Sixty Dollars. Choice Crisp AuColonial Currency Rare New Jersey June 22, 1756 Six Pounds Green Printed ReverseColonial Currency Note, North Carolina. April 4, 1748. Thirty Shillings.Colonial Currency, Virginia, October 20, 1777, $6 Handwritten Date. Choice Ef-auColonial/continental Currency One Old Note Low Grade Continental Currency 1776 CoinColonial Currency Note, New York, April 15, 1758. Ten Pounds. Very FineColonial Currency, South Carolina March 6, 1776 Printed With Hebrew Text LettersColonial Currency Note, Rhode Island, January 15, 1776, One Shilling. FineColonial Currency Note, North Carolina Dec 1768, 40s With Star Of David On VersoColonial Currency. South Carolina. November 15, 1775. Two Pounds Ten ShillingsColonial Currency Note, Connecticut June 7, 1776 3 Shillings No Cancel Choice VfColonial Currency, Sc. July 6, 1789 1s3d Hemp Rope-tobacco Plant Treasusy Error!Colonial Currency Note, New Jersey. December 31, 1763. Eighteen Pence. Choice Cu1777 $15 Virginia Colonial Note Pmg 40 Extremely Fine NetUs 1780 Continental Currency Five Shillings Connecticut June 1st, 17801781 100 Pounds Connecticut Colonial Note *free Shipping After First Item*Colonial Currency, Sc. April 10, 1779, 30 Shillings. Hope + Anchor Vignette RareColonial Currency Note, New York. February 16, 1771. Ten Pounds. Very FineColonial Currency Note, Ct. June 1, 1780, 1s3d. Crisp Au Signed John ChesterMarch 25, 1776 New Jersey 18 Pence Colonial Note Uncancelled #50555Colonial/continental Currency One Old Note Low Grade January 14th, 1779 United States Of North America $50 Colonial Currency Note1782 Peter Colt Revolutionary War, State Of Ct. Superb Pay Order Guarantee Form! 1788, Pair Of Revolutionary War Payment Bonds, Interest , John Lawrence SignedOctober 1, 1773 Pennsylvania 50 Shillings Colonial Note Uncancelled #6040 January 6, 1776 - 4 Shillings New York [water Works] Colonial Note Uncancelled Maryland Colonial Currency 2/9 Dollar Or One Shilling April 10 1774 Genuine French Revolution Assignat 10 Sous Bank Notes January 4, 1792 Serie:823 December 1771 One Pound North Carolina Colonial Currency Pmg Fine 12 Genuine French Revolution Assignat 25 Sols Bank Notes January 4, 1792 Serie 1261775, Three Pounds Virginia Colonial Currency ~ Pcgs Ef-40Genuine French Revolution Assignat 50 Sols Bank Notes May 23, 1793 Serie 1064April 10, 1777 Pennsylvania 2 Shillings Colonial Note Uncancelled #26075 Genuine French Revolution Assignat 50 Sols Bank Notes May 23, 1793 Serie 1064Colonial Currency Note, Nj. April 12, 1757, 3 Pounds. Red Printed Face Rarity!Vintage Antique 1773 Fifteen Cent Shilling George The Iii Hall And Sellers Pen.Genuine French Revolution Assignat 50 Sols Bank Notes May 23, 1793 Serie 10641776 Continental Dollar Found In Andover MassachusettsColonial Currency Four 4 Dollars, Sep. 10 1777 Georgia May 5 1780 Colonial Massachusetts Bay $20 Note. #18329 Cancelled Nice!Cincin 19,nice Coin Spain Catholics Kings,cuenca,size 30mmOriginal 1776 One Shilling Paper Currency Colony Of Connecticut Nice Condition Genuine French Revolution Assignat 25 Sols Bank Notes January 4, 1792 Serie1406Lot Of 7 Colonial States & Revolutionary War Money Repro NotesGenuine French Revolution Assignat 10 Sous Bank Notes January 4, 1792 Serie:1542May 23, 1793 Serie 3306 - Genuine French Revolution Assignat 50 Sols Bank NoteCincin 19,nice And Rare Coin Spain,coined To Santo Domingo,"f"syp"carlos ICincin19,medal United States BicentennialConnecticut Colonial Note. 9 Pence June 19, 1776. Certified Pmg-64epqJan. 1, 1782 - 1 Shilling 6 Pence Connecticut Colonial Note Uncancelled