Benny Bolin's blog


Portraits of Living People Excluded

Have you ever wondered why no living persons are pictured on our currency?  That is because of an unfair vendetta that besmirched the integrity of one of the greatest men ever to work in the Treasury Department--Spencer Morton Clark. Clark was the first Superintendent of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and when the need for the third issue of fractional currency came about, he was responsible to get it printed. With the approval of his superiors, Treasurer Francis Elias Spinner and Secretary of the Treasury, Hugh McCulloch, Clark’s portrait was placed on the five cent note.

February 1876, The End of Fractional Currency

The final issue of fractional currency was the fifth one.  It was actually an unneeded issue as the U.S. Mint had been issuing more and more coins since the end of the Civil War. Almost $63,000,000 was printed between February 26, 1874 and February 15, 1876, with an estimated $15,276,443 outstanding as of 1884. The issue was comprised of only three denominations, 10ɇ, 25ɇ and 50ɇ.

“Lady Justice” on Fractional Currency

With the widespread counterfeiting of the second issue of fractional currency, the third issue came into being. It is by far the largest issue with the most varieties and includes the smallest note every printed, both in size and denomination by the United States, the three-cent notes.  It is also the issue that has five of the six most expensive notes ever sold, the Fr. 1351-1354 and the Fr. 1373A. The first third issue fifty-cent notes had the depiction of Justice holding scales and a sword. They were first released on December 5, 1864.  The first were Fr.

Civil War Stamp Envelopes, Their Issuers and Their Times. Book Review by Benny Bolin

Fred Reed has hit another homerun with his new book on Civil War Stamp Envelopes. The topic is one that has a limited collector base due to the relatively small number that still exist today (128 merchants issued 514 different varieties). But Fred has once again, as with his Encased Postage Stamp (EPS) and Lincoln books, gone above the normal item catalog and has completed a historical masterpiece. As a collector and researcher, I have been concerned that we are losing the history of the notes and other items as the hobby is seemingly becoming more focused on the financial aspect.

Second Issue Fractional Currency

Widespread counterfeiting of the first issue of fractional currency (Postage Currency) led Spencer Morton Clark to state that in order to protect the public, a new issue was needed.  The second issue (sometimes referred to as the first issue of Fractional Currency) was released on October 10, 1863 and ended on February 23, 1867.  The total of all four denominations was 161,341,194 notes with a face value of $23,164,483.65. It was estimated that 27,567,597 notes were still extant in 1884. 

A Green Thread in Fractional Currency

A Green Thread in Fractional Currency

Happy Birthday Postage & Fractional Currency

In the mid 1800’s, the majority of transactions between the general public and merchants were in sums of less than one dollar, making small change necessary. Prices of things were much less than what they are today. A quarter represented a good deal of money at the time. Three cents could buy you a newspaper or a ride. Five cents would get you a glass of beer and lunch.

The Odd and Curious

Interesting and Odd Facts about Fractional Currency Persons

The men pictured on and had other ties to fractional were a very interesting lot.  But did you know these facts?

 John J. Cisco

  • Took over for his father as head of his bank and was Hetty Green’s personal banker

Spencer Morton Clark

August 21--150th Birthday of Postage Currency

If you have been reading BNR and the recently issue of Paper Money, you will see that Fred Reed had done a wonderful job of outlining how postage and then fractional currency came into being, the laws, the players, etc.  But when did it actually first begin circulating?  A law was signed into service on July 17, 1862 that began postage currency.  The notes were first issued on August 21, 1862 and lasted until May 29, 1863.  The first notes were printed entirely by the National Banknote Company (which was printing the postage stamps of the day) and came in sheets that had

Postage Currency "Coins"

Fractional Currency has enjoyed an increased popularity over the past few years.  Most collectors have some exposure and knowledge of it, however, very few collectors, other than those with advanced knowledge, know of the coins that were minted to redeem postage and fractional currency.