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My First Paper Purchase: 1776 Colonial

MonsterCoinzMonsterCoinz Posts: 1,510 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited September 1, 2020 2:52PM in U.S. & World Currency Forum

First, I am strictly a coin collector and have never purchased paper, not so much as a star note. But I wanted something to frame in my office and I thought what better than a piece of currency that's dated to our country's founding.

What little I know about these is that the colonies issued their own currency before we had a federal mint. I would love to know why some are numbered and what that means. And if I did well or if this is a pretty banal example to own.


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    Scooter007Scooter007 Posts: 115 ✭✭✭

    I have zero knowledge about it But I like it… very cool 👍

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    JimnightJimnight Posts: 10,812 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice!

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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,681 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very cool, I want something colonial eventually, too..

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    Scooter007Scooter007 Posts: 115 ✭✭✭

    @sellitstore & @SaorAlba …… Good information, I had zero knowledge on these before … Thanks for sharing 😀

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    AlexinPAAlexinPA Posts: 1,458 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here's the only one I have...................

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    TitusFlaviusTitusFlavius Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    That's a very presentable example of a note that's high on my want list, too. Since you're a coin collector, you may find the denominations in thirds, and sixths, odd, since the Spanish milled dollar was physically divided into eighths (bits, or reales in Spanish).

    The real experts can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the seemingly odd denominations were because a widely used valuation of the Spanish milled dollar in the British colonies was the Lawful Money standard of 6 shillings to the dollar, which was higher than the Sterling price of a dollar of 4 shillings, 6 pence. The colonies were always short of hard money, so the favorable local exchange rate was an attempt to keep scarce specie in the colonies. So your 2/3 dollar note would be equivalent to 4 shillings Lawful Money. The Sterling value of your note would only be 3 shillings. Of course, as the war progressed, and more and more notes were printed, you would have needed many more paper dollars to get someone to part with one made of actual silver!

    "Render therfore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Matthew 22: 21
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    sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,482 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, I think that the thirds were used because of a 6 shillings to the dollar standard but the value of each states dollar varied in relation to the pound sterling. Thirds worked well with a 6 shillings to the dollar standard. The four fractional denominations issued all correspond to even amounts in Shillings at this rate. $1/6 = 1 shilling, $1/3 = 2 shillings, $1/2 =3 shillings and $2/3 = 4 shillings.

    By Jan 1781 the Continental Dollar was worth 1% of it's 1775 value, only to fall in value even more.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
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    JesseKraftJesseKraft Posts: 414 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @sellitstore said:
    Yes, I think that the thirds were used because of a 6 shillings to the dollar standard but the value of each states dollar varied in relation to the pound sterling. Thirds worked well with a 6 shillings to the dollar standard. The four fractional denominations issued all correspond to even amounts in Shillings at this rate. $1/6 = 1 shilling, $1/3 = 2 shillings, $1/2 =3 shillings and $2/3 = 4 shillings.

    6 shillings to a dollar was the case in New England and Virginia only.
    In NY and NC it was 8 shillings, Mid-Atlantic States it was 7s6d, Georgia it was 5 shillings. South Carolina varied a lot, but an oft-quoted rate was 32 shillings/dollar. That doesn't mean that a dollar was worth more or less in any given area (per se), but that each colony-turned-state divided the dollar differently. For instance, a random product in NY cost 16 shillings, 15 shillings in NJ, and 12 shillings in New England. In all three places, it cost 2 dollars.

    This wasn't necessarily a variation in relation to the pound sterling, but must be considered separate monetary systems unto their own. Just like the Canadian dollar and Hong Kong dollars aren't variations in relation to US dollar, but distinct monetary systems, the same goes for York pounds, New England pounds, and the British pound (and the rest).

    Jesse C. Kraft, Ph.D.
    Resolute Americana Curator of American Numismatics
    American Numismatic Society
    New York City

    Member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), British Numismatic Society (BNS), New York Numismatic Club (NYNC), Early American Copper (EAC), the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4), U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association (USMNA), Liberty Seated Collectors Club (LSCC), Token and Medal Society (TAMS), and life member of the Atlantic County Numismatic Society (ACNS).
    Become a member of the American Numismatic Society!

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    JesseKraftJesseKraft Posts: 414 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @sellitstore said:

    The signatures and serial numbers are gone and their presence would nice [...]

    I don't think they're gone, inasmuch as they were never there to begin with. The note was unissued and, therefore, never received the signatures and serial number.

    Jesse C. Kraft, Ph.D.
    Resolute Americana Curator of American Numismatics
    American Numismatic Society
    New York City

    Member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), British Numismatic Society (BNS), New York Numismatic Club (NYNC), Early American Copper (EAC), the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4), U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association (USMNA), Liberty Seated Collectors Club (LSCC), Token and Medal Society (TAMS), and life member of the Atlantic County Numismatic Society (ACNS).
    Become a member of the American Numismatic Society!

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    sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,482 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 7, 2020 5:22PM

    @JesseKraft said:

    @sellitstore said:

    The signatures and serial numbers are gone and their presence would nice [...]

    I don't think they're gone, inasmuch as they were never there to begin with. The note was unissued and, therefore, never received the signatures and serial number.

    Thanks for the clarification on the exchange rates. These were the exchange rates for the silver Spanish Milled Dollar, not the paper Continental dollar. The continental dollar depreciated pretty fast making exchange rates to any hard currency a rapidly inflating problem.

    I don't agree that the signatures were never there on this note. I believe that slight traces of the serial number and signature DO remain, just enough to see that it was issued. Besides, how many unissued ones are there? All that I can ever remember seeing were issued. I don't believe many unsigned remainders survive. I think pretty much close to all were issued with serial numbers exceeding 1 million. A few were likely saved serving as proofs or specimens for archival or counterfeit detection. In any event, it's much more likely that this example has faded signatures as many suffered that fate.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
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    JesseKraftJesseKraft Posts: 414 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @sellitstore said:

    @JesseKraft said:

    @sellitstore said:

    The signatures and serial numbers are gone and their presence would nice [...]

    I don't think they're gone, inasmuch as they were never there to begin with. The note was unissued and, therefore, never received the signatures and serial number.

    I don't agree that the signatures were never there on this note. I believe that slight traces of the serial number and signature DO remain, just enough to see that it was issued. Besides, how many unissued ones are there? All that I can ever remember seeing were issued. I don't believe many unsigned remainders survive. I think pretty much close to all were issued with serial numbers exceeding 1 million. A few were likely saved serving as proofs or specimens for archival or counterfeit detection. In any event, it's much more likely that this example has faded signatures as many suffered that fate.

    You may be right about the signatures. I've seen notes that are unintelligible, but not to the point where they're completely gone. As to the amount that are unissued—I've seen many more state notes that are unsigned or partially-signed than Continentals, and that there are very, very few of the latter.

    Jesse C. Kraft, Ph.D.
    Resolute Americana Curator of American Numismatics
    American Numismatic Society
    New York City

    Member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), British Numismatic Society (BNS), New York Numismatic Club (NYNC), Early American Copper (EAC), the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4), U.S. Mexican Numismatic Association (USMNA), Liberty Seated Collectors Club (LSCC), Token and Medal Society (TAMS), and life member of the Atlantic County Numismatic Society (ACNS).
    Become a member of the American Numismatic Society!

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    sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,482 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Faded signatures are typical of well circulated notes from this series. These two are among the few up for auction currently on Ebay.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
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    johnny9434johnny9434 Posts: 27,498 ✭✭✭✭✭

    congrats on the pick up :)

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    SaorAlbaSaorAlba Posts: 7,475 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The ink used could vary all the way from a sharp black India ink to watered down ochre to stretch it out as long as possible - something I admit to doing with my fountain pen occasionally.

    Not so much for the notes issued prior to 1776, the signatures were meaningful as the signers were a select group of individuals prominent in the community, but for the Continental issues the numbers of signers are high enough that the signature was practically meaningless. It got to the point where once inflation set in and they were printing money like toilet paper even mere clerks or designated signers were signing the notes - a lot like the latter part of the Confederate currency issue where the signers are just too many.

    In memory of my kitty Seryozha 14.2.1996 ~ 13.9.2016 and Shadow 3.4.2015 - 16.4.21
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    Scooter007Scooter007 Posts: 115 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for posting on this subject, Very Interesting Reading 👍

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    AlexinPAAlexinPA Posts: 1,458 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very interesting pieces of American history. Thanks for posting them.

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