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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.

Identification codes for paper money types and varieties

Schafluetzel ID M-B.F&M-1-3c, Garland ID 616, Haxby ID TN-100-G42
I am writing an update on Paul Garland’s book on Tennessee obsolete currency. I began with the objective of publishing a book on Tennessee merchant scrip as an addition to Paul Garland’s book on banknotes.

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.

Obsoletes: Build Your Library

I've always thought that the area of U.S. obsolete notes remains the wild west of paper money; there is much in the field that has yet to be discovered and mapped.  But there are a great many references that have been created over the last century that collectors of state notes can use to help build their collections.  Many works have been sponsored by the SPMC over the last 50 years.  Here is a partial list of titles -- I am sure there are others still missing in my library:

American Numismatic Association Show – Chicago; August 2013

Joyce and I set up at the World’s Fair of Money ANA show in Chicago, Ill. This is the largest show of the year and, while focused on coins, has become quite a significant currency show as well. There would be a lot to do at this show with having a corner table, various club meetings including a significant Society of Paper Money Collectors (SPMC) meeting, and a major auction of Fugio coppers, as well as CSA and obsolete paper money. We flew in on Saturday to get situated, view auction lots, and visit friends at the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) show.

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. 

$20 FRN Series 1934 Minneapolis LGS Stars

When I started collecting small size notes, information regarding the number of star notes printing was often not available.  For over thirty years I have been recording serial number data for star notes I observed or appeared in auction.  I have been able to calculate several star note printings from my observations.

Update: Large Size Replacement Nationals

About a year ago, I concluded my blog series on Large Size Replacement Nationals.  Since then, I've given a presentation and printed an 8-page handout for Memphis 2013.  The presentation (it can be downloaded here: https://www.spmc.org/member-presentations) was well received and was the best attended seminar at the convention.  An article is forthcoming in Bank Note Reporter.


My first post is an introduction of myself.  I would consider myself a hardcore collector of small size US currency.  My first introduction to currency collecting was in the late 1960s when my grandmother was actively searching for $1 FRN Barr notes. At that point I started looking at all notes.  I bought my first currency book shortly thereafter.

In the 1970s I was pulling circulated $1 FRN star notes out of circulation.  While none were worth more than face, I still regarded them as rare.