Categories of U.S. Paper Money.

Colonial Paper Obsolete Bank Notes National Bank Notes Federal Paper

$2 1/2 North Carolina note issued at Halifax on 4/2/1776.The collecting and study of paper money of the United States has been divided into a number of somewhat chronologically overlapping categories. These categories are identified in the following listing including short descriptions of each. Follow the links below for an in-depth discussion and sampling of the notes in each category.

  • Colonial Paper Money

    Covering the period from 1690 to roughly 1792. The American colonies were faced with a critical shortage of money from the beginning; the eastern coastal regions of North America had no major deposits of gold or silver. This combined with restrictive policies regarding the export of bullion or coins from England meant that the colonists had to be creative in order to develop their nascent economy. Tobacco, nails, beaver pelts adn other commodities were all used at one time or another as money. In 1690 the Massachussetts Bay Colony approved the issuance of paper money in order to pay its expenses for an invasion of Canada during King William's War against the French and Indians. This paper money constitues the first paper money issued in North America and the first paper moeny to be issued by a government in the West.

  • Obsolete Bank Notes

    Loan & Trust Company located in Fairfield Connecticut on October 15, 1831.  This note is an interest bearing note at the rate of 3% per year until August of 1835. Covering the period from 1792 to 1866. Due to the disastrous experience with paper money during the Revolutionary War, the writers of the new Constitution decided to prevent the individual states from issuing paper money at all and not to issue Federal government paper currency on a regular basis. However, the critical lack of coined money in silver or gold made some sort of paper currency absolutely necessary. Thus banks chartered by the individual States, corporations, and even individuals began to issue paper money, now known as obsolete bank notes. This series offers a huge variety of images reflecting the changing self-image of Americans during this critical period of National development and expansion. Included in this section is the currency issued by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

  • National Bank Notes

    $50 National Bank note issued by the First National Bank of Grand Forks, North Dakota, 9/1/1901.Covering the period from 1863 to 1929. The crisis of the Civil War forced the Federal government to reevaluate its monetary policies - the huge expenses of the war made it necessary for the government to issue paper money and bonds in huge amounts. The old haphazard system of paper money was drastically revised in order to create a reliable further source of funds to support the war effort. The National Bank system created a federally supported organization for banks that provided insurance for deposits as well as for a standardized design for bank notes (except the location and name of the banks). Banks could choose not to join the system but faced substantial tax penalties - by 1866 the last of the independent banks ceased to issue paper money, thus ending the Obsolete Paper Money era.