During the Civil War, the high demand for precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper resulted in a shortage of coins. Those that were minted were routinely horded by a nervous public. In response, in 1863, the U.S. government issued Fractional Currency in 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50-cent denominations.

Fractional Currency, which was printed in four issues and circulated until 1876, is widely available and popular with beginning numismatists. One of the most sought-after prizes is the 5-cent note bearing a portrait of Spencer M. Clark, who was President Lincoln’s superintendent of the National Currency Bureau. Clark, who by most accounts was not an especially popular figure, managed to put his own bearded face on the 5-cent notes produced from 1863 to 1867. This act of egotism prompted Congress to pass a law banning images of living persons on currency.

But for the most part, Fractional Currency was a success, thanks in no small part to the leadership of Francis E. Spinner, Treasurer of the United States. The denominations were his idea, but he didn’t stop there. Instead, Spinner used the need to print small notes as opportunities to experiment with different types of papers, inks, and anti-counterfeiting measures.


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    

Fr#1374, 50 Cent Fourth Issue Fractional Currency Pmg Au 50 Epq Postage Currency, Sc No Pc3, Well Circulated W/creases, Edge/corner Wear, TearFr#1318, 50 Cent Second Issue Fractional Currency Pmg Au 55 Epq Fr1309 25¢ 5th Issue Fractional Currency Pmg 65 Gem! Hgr 1863 .25cent 3rd Issue ((fessenden)) UncirculatedLot Of (2)-25 Cents Fractionals ,5th Issue,fr-1309 Short Thick Key Very Fine +United States 10 Cents Fractional Currency Note 18741863 Five Cents State Of South Carolina Fractional Currency Confederate Note Fr#1281, 25 Cent First Issue Fractional Currency Pmg Ch Unc 63 U.s. Fractional Currency 5 Different Banknote Lot 1863-18642 U.s.fractional Notes: 10 Cents + 25 Cents "george Washington" 1860s5¢ Fractional Currency Five Cent 3rd Issue Fr.1239 5c - Fine1863 Fifteen Cents State Of South Carolina Confederate Fractional Currency Note Fr#1312, 50 Cent First Issue Fractional Currency Pmg Ch Unc 63 Noblespirit No Reserve Excellent U.s. 1862 Civil War Union Fractional 10¢ NoteFr.1381 $.50 Cent Fifth Issue Fractional Pmg Choice Cu 63 Fr.1309 .25 Cent Robert J. Walker Fifth Issue Fractional Pmg Choice New 64epq50 Cent Fractional Currency March 3rd 1803 50¢ Fractional Currency Fourth Issue 50 Cents Fr.1376 50c - Vg *no Reserve!Historic Civil War-u.s. Minted Fractional Currency. Pcgs Uncirc.new 62-ppq.1874 Us Fractional Currency "twenty Five Cents" Pmg! Old Us Paper Currency!10¢ 1st Issue Fractional Currency 10c Fr.1243 - Unc DetailsPostage Currency, Scott No Pc6, Well Circulated W/creases And Edge And Cnr WearPostage Currency, Scott No Pc5, Well Circulated W/creases And Edge And Cnr Wear1874 Us Fractional Currency "twenty Five Cents" Fine! Nice! Old Us Currency!1862 Gorgeous Uncirculated Us Fractional "five Cents"! Old Us Paper Currency!Fr#1376, 50 Cent Fourth Issue Fractional Currency Pmg Au 55 1874 5th Issue 10c Note - Fr 1265 - Pmg Choice Unc 63 EpqLot Of 4 U.s. Fractional Currency Notes1862 5 Cent Fractional Currency**uncirculated**bright Blue** .99 Opening Bid1862 10 Cent Fractional Currency**uncirculated**bright Green** .99 Opening BidFractional Currency (2) Notes, $0.25, $0.10 View PhotosFr-1261 10 Cent Fractional NoteFr1256, 10 Cent Third Issue Fractional Currency Pmg Xf40 Net (previously Mounted1863 Usa 10 Cents Fractional Note, Pick 115Series Of 1874 Us 25 Cents Fractional Currency NoteFractional Currency Civil War Era Item Group Of One Old Note Fine With Stains Fr.1381 50 Cent Fifth Issue Factional Pmg Choice Uncirculated 64 Pcgs Choice About New 58ppq, 50 Cent, Issue 1Scarce 1862 25 Cent – 1st Issue - Fractional Currency – Pmg Ch. Au 58 Epq2 Fractional Currency Notes5¢ Fractional Currency Five Cent 1st Issue Fr.1231 5c - Fine1864 1869 Fractional Currency 3 Cents Washington Fr 1226 Thied Issue Repaired1863 Fifty Cents 3rd Issue Fractional Currency1874 25 Cent Fractional CurrencyUs 3 Cent Fractional Bill- Fr1226 - 3rd Issue - Poor ConditionPmg65 Issue 2, Gem Uncirculated Epq , 25 Cent2nd Issue Fifty Cent25¢ 1874 5th Issue 25c Fractional Currency Fr.1309 Short Key - XfPmg40 Ef 2nd Issue, 50 CentFr#1242, 10 Cent First Issue Fractional Currency Pmg Vf 30 50 Cents Fractional Currency Fifth Issue Fr.1380 50c - Vg Details 10¢ 4th Issue Fractional Currency 10c Fr.1259 - Vg 1863 50 Cent Fractional Currency Pmg Au53 Net State Of Alabama, StainsFr#1246, 10 Cent Second Issue Fractional Currency Pmg Choice Vf 3510¢ 5th Issue 10 Cent Fractional Currency Long Key - Vg Details *no Reserve!1862 - 5 Cents U.s Postage Fractional Currency 1st. Issue1874 25 Cent - 1874 Ten Cent - 1862 Ten Cent Fractional Currency1874 Us 25 Cent Fractional Currency Bill Note NrUs Paper Money Fractional Currency 25 Cents