Collector Specializations

Members of SPMC collect paper money covering a range of specializations. For instance, persons interested in local history tend to collect all kinds of notes that were issued in their area, like Obsoletes Notes and National Bank Notes. However, there are no rules. You should feel free to collect whatever interests you. These pages are intended to help you broaden your horizons. Have a look at kinds of notes you hadn't before considered collecting!

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Fractional Currency--A Primer

Fractional currencywas issued during and after the U.S. Civil War due to the hoarding and shortage of gold, silver and copper coins.  It was printed in five issues in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50 cents.  The notes were printed from August 21, 1862, until February 15, 1876.  The first issue of fractional currency was authorized by Congress in the summer of 1862 and signed into law on July 17, 1862. It is called Postage Currency since these notes had as their central vignette the five and ten-cent stamps of the day.

Collecting USDA Food Coupons

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 officially replaced the food stamp program with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that uses debit cards instead of coupons. One year after the act became effective, on October 1, 2009, food coupons were no longer an obligation of the United States government. It is now legal for persons to acquire and hold coupons who never received them as a beneficiary of the food stamp program. Happy collecting!

Below are the pertinent sections of the act:

Series of 1914 FRN Plate Types

The BEP used four different face plate types for the Series of 1914 Federal Reserve notes. The number and size of the district IDs near the corner counters characterized each type; in addition, the placements of the bank and Treasury seals also characterized the fourth type. Below is a visual guide to all four types.

Type 1 (Friedberg red seal type a)

Punch Out Cancellation, or Hole Cancellation

A punch out cancellation is a large hole taken from the note to indicate that the note has been cancelled.

Coin Note

A Coin Note is an obsolete note with a vignette of coins, usually contemporary with the note, and equal in value to the denomination.

Santa Claus Note

These are obsolete notes with a vignette of Santa Claus.

Lazy 3

Lazy 3s (and other numerals) are notes exhibiting the denomination in a horizontal position. These follow the name originally applied to $2 first charter national bank notes, better known as Lazy 2s.

Banker Scrip

Banker Scrip was a type of scrip issued by merchants but guaranteed by a local banking house. They were presumably backed by deposits of the merchant who issued them.

Postal Notes

Postal Notes were a medium offered by the U.S. Postal service for the purpose of sending money through the mail. There were issued in amounts from 1c to $4.99. There were five main types of Postal Notes issued from 1883 to 1894.

Municipal Scrip

Municipal Scrip were notes issued by a city, county or state authority.

Spurious Note

Spurious Notes were notes of non-existent banks, intended to defraud sellers of goods or services.

College Currency

College Currency were notes used by business colleges in the training of their students in banking and accounting.

Round Cardboard Scrip

These were paper tokens issued by merchants, much for the same purpose as traditional paper scrip.

Panic of 1893 Scrip

There were several financial panics in the history of the U.S. The Panic of 1893 was an especially severe panic that resulted in economic contraction. Some larger companies issued scrip to accommodate the temporary shortage of currency.

Advertising Note

Advertising notes are a branch of obsolete notes. They were essentially coupons offering a discount on a purchase of some goods, and resembled contemporary bank notes. Because they look like money, they were often saved.

Endorsed Notes

Endorsed notes were a means by bankers to achieve a circulation by avoiding local laws prohibiting the issue of bank notes. Minnesota was one state where the issue of notes was prohibited before statehood. Yet there were several bankers in the St. Paul area who wanted to increase the local money supply. They purchased the notes of defunct of non-existent banks for about the cost of printing them. The local bankers added their endorsement -- often a pen notation on the face or back -- and issued the notes as money.

Depression Scrip

Depression Scrip is a branch of obsolete notes entailing the issue of emergency scrip during the Great Depression. It includes barter scrip -- payable for labor -- and stamp scrip, issued by local municipalities and paid off through a tax on the notes as they circulated.

Cut-out Cancellation

A cut-out cancellation was a way to indicate a note was redeemed, by cutting out the signatures on the note.

Punch Cancellation

When notes were redeemed -- turned in for gold or silver coins -- they were typically destroyed, so they could be not redeemed again. Sometimes notes were spared destruction by instead cancelling them. Small hole punches through the signatures were one means of cancellation.

Remainder Note

Remainders were unissued notes that were left over after a bank (or other kind of issuer) ceased issuing notes.

Issued Note

An issued note, unlike a proof or remainder, is a note that was actually used a money. It will have signatures, normally hand signed by the bank cashier and president, and a serial number. Sometimes dates were written in by hand. In the case of State Bank Notes, there is often a third signature from the authorizing official at the state level.

State Bank Note

State Bank Notes were paper money issued by banks authorized by a state to conduct business. The banks may have been chartered, whereby a state legislature authorized its existence, or free banks, whereby individuals who had sufficient capital could organize and file articles of incorporation with the state. The earliest state banks began in the 1780s. The note-issuing function of state banks effectively ended when a federal tax on the outstanding circulation of state banks went into effect in 1866.

Proof Note

Proofs were special impressions of bank notes to demonstrate to bank officials what their notes would look like, before the plates were put into production. They were normally printed on India paper, a thin, crisp paper that was superior for showing engraved detail. The signature blocks on proof were typically punch cancelled, so that it could not be transformed into a circulating note by adding signatures.


Scrip describes a wide variety of notes that were typically issued out of a sudden economic need. During the American Civil War, a large amount of scrip was issued by merchants who could not obtain silver coins in order to make change for their customers purchases. This was particularly acute during late 1862, when uncertainly concerning the outcome of the war resulted in hoarding of gold and silver coins. Merchants issued scrip to accommodate the need for change.