The World's Largest Public Domain Media Search Engine

Early American Money

American Colonies Paper MoneyCreated by: PICRYLDated: 2017
Hart, John. Paper money. One shilling. Signed
Money in the colonies was denominated in pounds, shillings, and pence. The value varied from colony to colony; a Massachusetts pound, for example, was not equivalent to a Pennsylvania pound. All colonial pounds were of less value than the British pound sterling. The prevalence of the Spanish dollar coin in the colonies led to the money of the United States being denominated in dollars rather than pounds. Due to almost no money supply from Britain to colonies, colonies had to issue their own paper money to serve as an exchange. In 1690, the Province of Massachusetts Bay created "the first authorized paper money to pay for a military expedition during King William's War. Other colonies followed the example by issuing their own paper currency in subsequent military conflicts, to pay debts.
The paper bills issued by the colonies were known as "bills of credit." Bills of credit were usually fiat money: they could not be exchanged for a fixed amount of gold or silver coins upon demand. The governments would then retire the currency by accepting the bills for payment of taxes. When colonial governments issued too many bills of credit or failed to tax them out of circulation, inflation resulted. This happened especially in New England and the southern colonies, which, unlike the Middle Colonies, were frequently at war. Pennsylvania, however, was not issuing too much currency and it remains a prime example in history as a successful government-managed monetary system. Pennsylvania's paper currency, secured by land, was said to have generally maintained its value against gold from 1723 until the Revolution broke out in 1775.
This depreciation of colonial currency was harmful to creditors in Great Britain. The British Parliament passed several Currency Acts to regulate the paper money issued by the colonies. The Currency Act of 1751 restricted the emission of paper money in New England. It allowed the existing bills to be used as legal tender for public debts (i.e. paying taxes), but disallowed their use for private debts (e.g. for paying merchants).
Currency Acts of 1751 and of 1764 created tension between the colonies and the mother country and were a contributing factor in the coming of the American Revolution. When the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, all of the rebel colonies, soon to be independent states, issued paper money to pay for military expenses.
143 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2
Ten Spanish milled dollars or their value in gold or silver, to be given in exchange for this bill at the treasury of Virginia, pursuant to act of assembly passed Oct. 20 1777.
Twenty dollars. Book illustration from Library of Congress

Twenty dollars. Book illustration from Library of Congress

Verso of a twenty dollar bill with a picture of a leaf. Illus. in: Rare Book Division - Colonial Currency Collection. Ref. copy may be in LOT 4412. This record contains unverified, old data from caption card.

"Twenty dollars, this bill entitles the bearer to receive twenty spanish milled dollars ... Sept. 26, 1778"
A table shewing the value of any number of dollars, from 1 to 10,000, at seven shillings and six-pence. [Philadelphia] Zachariah Poulson, jun. 1778.

A table shewing the value of any number of dollars, from 1 to 10,000, ...

Imprint 3; Not in Evans; Not in Hildeburn; Printers ornament. Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile page images and as full text in SGML. Printed Ephemera Collection... More

One hundred Spanish milled dollars, or the value thereof in gold or silver, to be given in exchange for this bill at the treasury of Virginia, pursuant to an act of assembly passed October the 5th, 1778.
In Congress, June 29, 1779. As Congress are bound by every motive of policy and of public & private justice to maintain the credit of the paper money emitted by their authority on the faith of the United States [Resolutions to borrow twenty mill

In Congress, June 29, 1779. As Congress are bound by every motive of p...

Imprint 3.; U. S. Continental Congress 1779.; Loans.; On verso: On public service to the Honorable Benjamin Bellowr Walpole. Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile p... More

One hundred Spanish milled dollars, or the value thereof in gold or silver, to be given in exchange for this bill at the treasury of Virginia, pursuant to an act of assembly passed May the 3d, 1779.
This bill of two hundred dollars shall be exchanged and redeemed in Spanish milled dollars, or the value thereof in gold or silver, at the rate of one for forty at the treasury of Virginia, on or before the thirtieth day of December, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, according to an act of assembly passed the seventh day of May, 1781.
United States Congress, September 1, 1781, Printed Table of Currency Scale, Paper Money to Silver

United States Congress, September 1, 1781, Printed Table of Currency S...

Printed Table of Currency Scale, Paper Money to Silver

Twenty five dollars

Twenty five dollars

Print shows a bank note for $25 with a bust portrait of George Washington, right profile, in a medallion surrounded by text which states: "The President, Directois and Company of Washington Bank in Westerly [Rh... More

The president and directors for the Kentucky Insurance Company promise to pay ... or bearer on demand two dollars, Lexington 16 Aug. 1816
The president and directors for the Kentucky Insurance Company promise to pay ... or bearer on demand one dollar, Lexington 16 June 1816
The art of making money plenty in every man's pocket by Doctor Franklin. New York Published by P. Maverick, 1817.
The president, directors & co. of the Bank of Henderson promise to pay ... or bearer, five dollars on demand. Henderson 18 Aug. 1818
The president, directors co. of the Cumberland Bank of Burksville promise to pay ... or bearer on demand five dollars. Burksville 28 Decem. 1818.
The president & directors of the bank of the commonwealth of Kentucky promise to pay ... or bearer, twelve & a half cents, on demand at their ... branch bank. Frankfort, ... 1822.
Demand twelve and a half cents in commonwealth's pa- per of
The dollar bill issued by the Merchant's Bank of Trenton, November 20th, 1861, is recorded in D. C. Wismer's "Obsolete Paper Money With Portrait of Lincoln.

The dollar bill issued by the Merchant's Bank of Trenton, November 20t...

Accompanying typed manuscript claims it is the earliest dated bill to be ornamented with the Lincoln lineaments. Handwritten note to bottom of manuscript indicates there is a bill earlier than that dates August 10, 1861.

The President, Directors & Co. of the Powow River Bank will pay five hundred dollars to bearer on demand. Salisbury, Mass.

The President, Directors & Co. of the Powow River Bank will pay five h...

Print shows a railroad locomotive with fuel, freight, and passenger cars at top left, with buildings in the background. Circular design with large "D" and "Five Hundred Dollars" appears on lower left corner and... More

National currency / JS Conway.

National currency / JS Conway.

Print shows a trompe-l'oeil presentation of a U.S. $10 national currency issued by the "National Bank of Washington" pinned to a notice from the "[Treas]ury Department, National Note Bureau". C3279 U.S. Copyrig... More

[Photographs of six pieces of Confederate paper currency]
[Confederate one hundred dollar bill], Confederate States of America.

[Confederate one hundred dollar bill], Confederate States of America.

Copyright by William Lee, M.D. Plate V, no. 1.

[Eight Confederate bills ranging in value from five to one hundred dollars]
[Reproductions of three Confederate five dollar bills and a Confederate two dollar bill]

[Reproductions of three Confederate five dollar bills and a Confederat...

Plate IV. Nos. 9, 10, 11, and 12. Copyright by William Lee.

Treasury Dept. Ofc. of U.S. Treasuer. Reserve vault Cash room packages seen in picture contain over 80 million dollars, [1914]
Connecticut bank note. Six shillings
New Hampshire. Three pound bank note
Rhode Island. Bank note. Two dollars
New Jersey bank note
North Carolina paper money. Two pounds
Maryland paper money. Two and two-thirds dollars
Hart, John. Paper money. One shilling. Signed
Delaware paper money. Four shillings
Virginia paper money. Eight Spanish milled dollars
Pennsylvania. Paper money. Sixteen shillings
South Carolina paper money. One Spanish milled dollar
Georgia paper money. One Spanish milled dollar
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Letter to John Watts, agent to the contractors for supplying money for his Majesty's forces in North America, New York
Two great questions. "Who is Ingersoll's Co.? - "Who stole the people's money? / Th. Nast.

Two great questions. "Who is Ingersoll's Co.? - "Who stole the people'...

Illustration shows, at top, Horace Greeley confronting James H. Ingersoll who is standing next to William "Boss" Tweed; at bottom, how the politicians who are members of Tweed's "Tammany Ring", "pass the buck" ... More

Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Connecticut bank note. Six shillings
New Hampshire. Three pound bank note
Rhode Island. Bank note. Two dollars
New Jersey bank note
North Carolina paper money. Two pounds
Hart, John. Paper money. One shilling. Signed
Maryland paper money. Two and two-thirds dollars
Pennsylvania. Paper money. Sixteen shillings
Delaware paper money. Four shillings
South Carolina paper money. One Spanish milled dollar
Virginia paper money. Eight Spanish milled dollars
Georgia paper money. One Spanish milled dollar
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Letter to John Watts, agent to the contractors for supplying money for his Majesty's forces in North America, New York
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Paper Money, Thomas Addis Emmet collection
Three pence. This bill shall pass current for three pence according to an act of general assembly of the Common-wealth of Pennsylvania, passed the twentieth day of March ... Dated the tenth day of April, A. D. 1777
Three pence. This bill shall pass current for three pence according to an act of general assembly of the Common-wealth of Pennsylvania, passed the twentieth day of March ... Dated the tenth day of April, A. D. 1777
This indented bill of five shillings, shall entitle the bearer to receive of the provincial treasurer, the like sum of five shillings, of equal value with the same sum, of the bills of credit now by law current, according to the directions of an act of general assembly of Pensilvania, made in the 11th year of the reign of his majesty George III. Dated the 20th day of March, 1771
Previous

of 2

Next