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What is it Worth? U.S. Fractional Currency
September 28, 2007

What is it worth? Fractional Currency During the Civil War Era.

During wartime, hard currency (silver and gold coins) are removed from circulation by the public and hoarded. To facilitate continued commerce, the U.S. Government started to print small format notes in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent denominations during the period from 1862 thru 1876. In 1864 a 3 cent value was added.

The first series issued in 1862 use postage stamp images as the central design, with multiple stamp images for the higher denominations.

The second issue was released in October 1863, and features George Washington as the central design on all denominations.

The Third issue of December 1864 featured the introduction of a circulating 3-cent value and an essay of a 15 cent value (although that never circulated, but is plentiful as an essay). The Fourth issue was released in 1869, and a fifth issue was used from 1875-1876.

It was not until extensive silver mines were found in 1870s that the coin shortage began to be relieved after the Civil War.

Many of these Fractional Currency notes are found in circulated condition and are available for under 20 dollars. Very nice condition notes, like those illustrating this blog posting are hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Stack's Rare Coins of New York City is currently offering a nice selection in their October Sale of part XIX of the John J. Ford Collection.

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About the Author
George Cuhaj has been with the Krause Publications numismatic team since 1994. He is editor of the various editions of the Standard Catalog of World Coins and the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. Prior to joining KP, Cuhaj was employed by the American Numismatic Society and Stack's Rare Coins, both of New York City. He is a Fellow in both the Royal Numismatic Society and the American Numismatic Society. He also is a life member and past board member of the International Bank Note Society. Cuhaj was elected an Allied Professional Member of the National Sculpture Society and has had his medallic work exhibited internationally.

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