Collectors of U.S. paper money have a rich array of notes and certificates to choose from. Most people begin with the Colonial paper issued between 1690 in Massachusetts and 1788 in New York. Paul Revere engraved some of the Massachusetts Bay Colony notes — an image of a codfish graces one side of his bills.
Continental Congress notes were printed between 1775 and 1779 to underwrite the Revolutionary War. Continentals, as they are known, were produced by Hall & Sellers, who used the former press of none other than Benjamin Franklin to create the precursor to contemporary U.S. currency. The bearer was promised a set amount (four dollars was the most common denomination) in “Spanish milled dollars” (one Spanish dollar being equal to one “piece of eight”).
This promise assumed that enough taxes could be collected upon victory in 1781, which did not happen as the Founders had hoped. At one point, holders of Continentals were getting two and a half cents on the dollar for their paper. Collectors do much better today.
In the early part of the 19th century, currency was a hodgepodge. Bridge builders and railroad tycoons were routinely given banking privileges, and even the Ohio Mormons had their own currency, signed by church leader Joseph Smith.
The Civil War revived the government’s interest in paper money when the Confederate States of America issued notes in 1861. A $50 bill from Montgomery, Alabama depicts slaves hoeing cotton. Other cotton-themed Confederate notes show the Southern crop being loaded onto a steamboat. The U.S. government responded to the Confederate States’ show of financial force with seven and a half by three and a quarter inch Demand Notes that same year; U.S. Notes followed in 1862, and National Bank Notes in 1863. These are the original greenbacks, so called because of the hue on their non-face sides.
One of the many fallouts of the Civil War was the hoarding of coins. With so many coins out of circulation, the government introduced Postage Currency in 1862 and Fractional Currency in 1863. As its name suggests, Postage Currency was tiny, so an enterprising entrepreneur named John Gault customized a button machine to encase the fragile stamps in brass and clear mica.
The mica face let the bearer see the denomination of the stamp (5, 10, 25, or 50 cents). The brass back served as a vehicle for advertisements. Thus, pitches for Ayer’s Cathartic Pills and Ayer’s Sarsaparilla, which promised “to purify the blood,” lived in economic harmony with the stern images of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, whose portraits were on the face side of these early stamps...
Encased stamps are very rare, but Fractional Currency is more widely available and popular with beginning numismatists. In a famous case, one of President Lincoln’s Treasury Department employees, Spencer M. Clark, put his own bearded mug on a piece of Fractional Currency, prompting Congress to pass a law banning images of living persons on notes.
After the war, National Bank Note use spread widely. The size of the note shrunk to six and 1/8 by two and 5/8 inches in 1928, and by the end of the National Bank Note era in 1935, most of the 14,000 banks in the country had their own notes. People collect them for condition ('crisp uncirculated' is an almost perfect note; 'good' is not prized by serious collectors because they are usually dirty and may have holes or tears), but also for the personal connection they may have to a particular town or bank.
As with Stock Certificates, some currency collectors are drawn to the vignettes and engravings — Franklin experimenting with lightning; Pocahontas being baptized.
Concurrent with National Bank Notes, the government issued both Gold and Silver Certificates, which promised the bearer the note’s face value in either metal. The first Gold Certificates were issued on 1865 for transactions between banks; a general-circulation Gold Certificate came along in 1882. Gold Certificates were recalled as part of the Gold Reserve Act of 1933, and it wasn’t until 1964 that it was again legal for private citizens to own them. Silver certificates coincided with the surplus of silver in 1878 but they were discontinued in 1963.
Finally, even though just about every currency collector would like to find that rare bill whose serial number or other distinguishing feature is printed upside down, some bills were deliberately tweaked. For example, during World War II, special currency was issued to troops in North Africa so that if it was captured, the currency could be easily demonetized. Similarly, to protect the money supply in the event of a Japanese invasion of Hawaii, currency there was overprinted with the word “Hawaii” on it, front and back, to make to easy to remove the bills from the money supply in the event of the worst.
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Costello speaks in SapulpaSapulpa Daily Herald, December 11th
He also made mention that when he purchased the bills as a novelty (he signs each one) the 60 cents per note (in bulk) the Zimbabwean money with all the zeros now fetch $3 from currency collectors. He lamented not buying low and selling high. Several ...Read more
New Lenox, Will County police blotterSouthtownStar, December 2nd
19 from a house in the 1500 block of Illini Drive, New Lenox Township. HOME BURGLARY: Jewelry, two handguns, cash and U.S. currency collector sets were taken Nov. 23 during a burglary of a home in the 2600 block of Walter Drive, New Lenox Township...Read more
Police blotterChicago Tribune, December 2nd
•Jewelry, two handguns, cash and U.S. currency collector sets were stolen during a residential break-in on the 2600 block of Walter Drive on Nov. 23. •Jewelry was stolen during a residential break-in on the 1500 block of Illini Drive on Nov. 19. Frankfort...Read more
Heritage experts object to Bank of Canada's plans to change “iconic” buildingOttawa Citizen, November 29th
The museum will move from the Centre building as a security precaution. It will be bigger “to showcase more of the currency collection and also reach out to the public a little more effectively,” says Jill Vardy, the Bank's chief of communications...Read more
Currency collection equals 4000 catsScoop.co.nz (press release), November 27th
Currency collection equals 4000 cats. Thursday, 28 November 2013, 11:36 am. Press Release: Heads Up for Kids. Currency collection equals 4000 cats - November 2013. Twenty tonnes, the equivalent to three elephants, 30 cattle or 4000 cats has been ...Read more
Rare bank currency from Schuylkill County up for saleLebanon Daily News, November 27th
and census figures show only a limited few or none known to exist," he said. "These notes are highly sought after and prized by collectors. In the 24 years of business, this is the largest collection of a single county National Currency collection...Read more
Inspiring girls to pursue careers in finance, banking, economicsFox Business, November 25th
The girls were also exposed to the -- historic currency collection and the new 100 dollar bill. -- and you let it. Very hit the tour ended with -- scavenger hunt for a goodie bag with a purple piggy bank and bag of shredded bills. And hopefully a new...Read more
Designer is a real moneymaker in San ClementeOCRegister (subscription), November 21st
ADVERTISEMENT. By JOSH FRANCIS / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. Michael Berman makes his money by making money. A San Clemente resident, Berman, 36, creates the designs on coin currency, collectors' coins, medallions, tokens and bullion...Read more