Our first banknotes were those authorized by the Continental Congress in 1775. Those notes, called “Continental Currency”, were supplemented in circulation by notes from each of the thirteen colonies, known as “Colonial Currency,” as well as American and foreign gold and silver coins. It wasn’t until 1861 that Uncle Sam began printing his own official paper specie, originally known as “Demand Notes.”
Since then, because of economic and political considerations, various denominations, colors, terminology, designs and physical sizes have been used to create a collector’s dreamland of U.S. banknotes. We will offer some on the website, and more in the store. Over the years we have handled everything from three-cent notes to $5,000.00 bills.
Fractional currency, first used to deal with coin hoarding during the Civil War, was far smaller in size. It was printed in denominations of three, five, ten, fifteen, twenty-five and fifty cents.
High denomination notes are getting harder to find. Five hundreds and thousands trade at more than double face value, in nice condition. The older, large size notes of those denominations are much rarer and more valuable. Prices rise dramatically for five thousands and ten thousands, when they can be found.
National Currency came in both large and small sizes. These bills contain the name of the issuing bank, which was required to have funds on deposit with the government to back the bills. Thousands of different ones were issued. New, previously unknown notes are occasionally discovered. No one has ever completed a collection of them all.
Gold and silver certificates, misprinted notes and “emergency issues” printed for use in Hawaii and North Africa during World War II are some of the more interesting and more available areas of collecting.
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