What coin denominations were used in the US before Dollars and Cents?

What coin denominations were used in the US before Dollars and Cents?

In Thomas Jefferson's proposal for a decimal currency, he describes the status quo as:

The [cent] will differ little from the copper of the four Eastern States, which is 1/108 of a dollar; still less from the penny of New York and North Carolina, which is 1/96 of a dollar; and somewhat more than the penny or copper of Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, which is 1/90 of a dollar.

By "penny", I assume he means the "d" in the £sd system like the British used, but debased. (His calculations elsewhere in the quoted document imply that a penny sterling was 1/54 of a Spanish dollar.) The states also had various units called the "pound":

But what is the Pound? 1547 grains of fine silver [$4.00] in Georgia; 1289 grains [$3.33] in Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire; 1031¼ grains [$2.67] in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; 966¾ grains [$2.50] in North Carolina and New York. Which of these shall we adopt? To which State give that pre-eminence of which all are so jealous? And on which impose the difficulties of a new estimate of their corn, their cattle, and other commodities? Or shall we hang the pound sterling, as a common badge, about all their necks? This contains 1718¾ [$4.44] grains of pure silver.

Note that in DE, MD, NJ, PA, NC, and NY, there were 240 "coppers" to a pound, just like in £sd. But in CT, MA, NH, and RI, there were 360 "coppers" to a pound. What explains the disparity? Did these states have 30 shillings to a pound instead of 20? Or was a "copper" 2/3 of a penny?

The very first national coinage system in the United States of America under the Washington Administration were half-cent, cent, half-dime, dime, quarter, half-dollar, dollar, quarter-eagle, half-eagle, and eagle ($10). Later there was also a double-eagle. If you live in the US, there's a good chance you've seen those being hawked on late-night TV commercials.

Before that the US was organized under the Articles of Confederation, with each state responsible for its own coinage. Before that, the most widely circulated and accepted coinage was actually Spanish pieces of eight.

Top 10 Old-Timey Bills And Currencies Of The United States

The history of the US dollar predates the United States itself. It goes back to the Revolutionary War when all thirteen colonies issued a single currency to fund the war against Britain. The current dollar was first issued during the Civil War. Several other currencies were introduced before, during, and after the war, and some even coexisted alongside the current dollar.

Interestingly, the present-day US currency has some bills that are rarely seen or even heard of. Ever heard of the $100,000 bill? Maybe not. Well! Here are ten old-timey bills and currencies of the US. Mind you, some are still legal tender even though they are out of print.

The Hidden History of the Nickel

In addition to eviscerating hundreds of thousands of lives, the Civil War devastated the monetary supply of the United States as fearful Americans hoarded gold and silver coins for the value of their metals. So many coins were taken out of circulation that Congress responded by authorizing the production of fractional currency notes, some with denominations as low as three cents. The paper money, however, proved difficult to manage, and Congress soon turned to a less expensive metal for minting its coins—nickel.

America’s first “nickels” were actually pennies. Starting in 1859, the United States Mint used a nickel and copper blend to produce its one-cent pieces, and in 1865 Congress authorized the federal government to use a similar composition for its new three-cent coin.

The following year, Congress began to debate whether to mint a nickel-based five-cent coin even though the United States already had a five-cent coin in circulation—in fact, it had been minting one for seven decades. The silver “half-disme” (pronounced “half-dime” from an Old French word meaning a “tenth”) was the first coin produced by the federal government, and according to the United States Mint, the metal for the initial pieces struck in 1795 may have come directly from George and Martha Washington’s melted silverware.

The small silver coins were difficult enough to keep track of in good times, let alone when they began to vanish from circulation. As American industrialist Joseph Wharton argued, by using cheaper nickel and copper, the new five-cent coins could be bigger than the half-dismes. Wharton doggedly lobbied his many friends in Congress to begin striking a second five-cent coin made from nickel.

Of course, the businessman had just a bit of a vested interest in the issue considering that he held a virtual monopoly on the production of nickel in the United States. He had taken over a nickel mine outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1863, and refined the metal at his American Nickel Works in Camden, New Jersey. Wharton’s friends in Congress not only agreed to the proposal on May 16, 1866, but even increased the weight of the new five-cent coin so that it required even more nickel. Not surprisingly, Wharton ultimately made plenty of coin from the new coin, so much so that in 1881 he donated money to establish the first business school in the United States—the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Several designs were proposed for the original nickel, including one with a bust of Abraham Lincoln that was rejected out of concern that it wouldn’t be particularly popular in the South. The approved design—with a Union shield surrounded by laurel wreaths on the front and a large numeral 𠇅” surrounded by 13 stars and bands of rays on the back—hardly received praise itself. The August 1866 edition of the American Journal of Numismatics referred to it as “the ugliest of all known coins,” which was actually a kinder assessment than that rendered by a reader in the following month’s issue who wrote, “The motto ‘In God we Trust’ is very opportune, for the inventor of this coin may rest assured that the devil will never forgive him.” For some, the stars and bars on the “Shield Nickel” evoked the Confederate “Stars and Bars” flag, and the intricate design caused production problems as the hard metal damaged the dies used in the minting process. Only months after the nickel’s introduction, the rays were removed.

For seven years, the federal government minted two five-cent coins before finally retiring the half-disme in 1873. A decade later, the nickel received a makeover as the goddess of Liberty appeared on the front of the coin. Counterfeiters, in particular, liked the new design since it closely resembled that of the gold five-dollar coin and the word �nts” appeared nowhere on the piece. By gold-plating the �nts-less” coins, entrepreneurial thieves could pass the nickels off as five-dollar pieces. Once the fraud came to the government’s attention, it added the word �nts” on the coin’s back.

The next overhaul of the nickel came in 1913 when James Earle Fraser, a student of famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens who grew up on the prairie, designed a coin that celebrated the American West. For the front, Fraser sculpted the head of a Native American, which he said was a composite based on models that included Chief Iron Tail of the Lakota Sioux and Chief Two Moons of the Cheyenne. On the back of the 𠇋uffalo Nickel” was a mighty bison. Although Fraser grew up where the buffalo roamed, the model for the great beast of the West was reportedly 𠇋lack Diamond,” the largest bison in captivity who grazed in more urban surroundings at New York’s Central Park Zoo.

As the bicentennial of Thomas Jefferson’s birth approached, the Treasury Department decided to honor him on the nickel. It staged a public competition for the coin’s redesign, and German immigrant Felix Schlag bested 390 artists to win the competition and the $1,000 prize in 1938. Schlag based his left-facing profile of the third president in period coat and wig on the marble bust sculpted by Frenchman Jean-Antoine Houdon. The reverse featured Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

To commemorate the bicentennial of both the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the nickel underwent its first facelift in 66 years in 2004 when two new designs were used on the back as part of the United States Mint’s Westward Journey series of nickels. The buffalo also returned to the coin’s reverse in a 2005 edition. New images of Jefferson also appeared, and the current coin features a new front designed by Jamie Franki based on a Rembrandt Peale portrait. The coin depicts Jefferson facing forward and marks the first time a presidential bust on a circulating American coin has not been shown in profile.

Large Cents

One cent coins and half cents were the first coins struck for circulation by the United States mint in 1793. Large cents were produced in every year from 1793 until 1857 except for 1815. These classic United States coins are highly collectible and have numerous die varieties just like the half cents because each die was unique in that it was handmade.

The United States Mint made large cents in the following years:

  • 1793-1793 Flowing Hair - Chain AMERICA Reverse
  • 1793-1793 Flowing Hair - Wreath Reverse
  • 1793-1795 Liberty Cap - Thin Planchet
  • 1795-1796 Liberty Cap - Heavy Planchet
  • 1796-1807 Draped Bust
  • 1808-1814 Classic Head
  • 1816-1835 Coronet/Matron Head
  • 1836-1839 Coronet/Matron Head - Modified ("Young Head")
  • 1839-1857 Braided Hair

Resource Center

Refers to the different values of money. U.S. coins currently are made in the following six denominations: cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar.

What is the correct term for a one-cent coin?

The proper term is "one cent piece," but in common usage this coins is often referred to as a penny or cent. Many times, even the Treasury Department and the United States Mint use the term penny because that is what is normally referred to in general use by the public.

Are there any plans to remove the one-cent coin (more popularly known as the "penny”) from circulation?

You may be interested to know that the penny is the most widely used denomination currently in circulation and it remains profitable to make. Significantly, it is Congress that determines the denominations of coins that the Mint must produce and put into circulation. Each penny costs .81 of a cent to make, but the United States Mint collects one cent for it. The profit goes to help fund the operation of the United States Mint and to help pay the public debt. In 2000, this profit added up to about $24 million. As the United States Mint produces the coins that Congress mandates, it does not have the authority to abolish a unit of currency. If directed to do so by legislation enacted by the Congress and signed by the President, the Treasury Department would again study phasing out the penny. Because the demand exists and the Federal Reserve Banks require inventories to meet the demand, the United States Mint is committed to producing the penny.

Why is the five-cent coin (the nickel) larger than the ten-cent coin (the dime)? What determines the sizes of our coins?

Today, the sizes of United States coins can help you to tell them apart quickly, but have nothing to do with their values. Metal prices constantly fluctuate, so the values of circulating coins aren’t tied to metallic content. But back in 1793, when the first U.S. coins were produced, the United States Mint linked the sizes of coins to a particular metal standard—the silver dollar. Except for the copper penny, all coins were produced in proportionate metallic content to the dollar, and their sizes were regulated accordingly. The fifty-cent coin contained one-half as much silver as the dollar, the quarter had one-fourth as much, and the dime or ten-cent coin had one-tenth as much. The five-cent coin, or half-dime as it was called then, had only one-twentieth the silver. But it was so small that it was difficult for people to handle. So in 1866, United States Mint officials decided to make it larger by changing its content from silver and copper to a combination of copper and nickel.

What denominations of coins are no longer being produced?

There are quite a few denominations of coins that the United States Mint does not produce any longer for general circulation. They are the half-cent coin, the two-cent coin, the three-cent coin, the half-dime coin (although it was replaced by the five-cent coin), a twenty-cent coins, and the various denominations of gold coins. Although the Mint does produce a series of gold bullion coins, these are not intended for circulation.

Plot twist that’s not a USA coin. At that time hawaiii wasn’t part of the usa

Have graded philippines pesos? Message me!

@Panda4456 said:
Plot twist that’s not a USA coin. At that time hawaiii wasn’t part of the usa

Another plot twist is that was struck by the US Mint and the reason this denomination wasn't included in the final set was that there was a desire to have the denominations match US coins. So while not part of the US yet, perhaps some were already thinking of it.

oh ya, the lovely hapawalu.

j/k, never seen one but thanks to you today i have and it is a gem!

<--- look what's behind the mask!

@LanceNewmanOCC said:
oh ya, the lovely hapawalu.

j/k, never seen one but thanks to you today i have and it is a gem!

I love the "EIGHTH DOL" on the bottom of the reverse!

I always thought the US $2 1/2 gold coin had an unusual denomination.

@PerryHall said:
I always thought the US $2 1/2 gold coin had an unusual denomination.

Who was the dude in 18whatever that thought that anything money related that started with a 3 would acceptable?

The color on that coin is just outstanding!

@koynekwest said:
The color on that coin is just outstanding!

Agree 100%. This one looks gorgeous

1868 $5 Dual Denomination $5-25 Franc - Judd-656 Gilt, Pollock-729, Low R.7 - PCGS PR64 POP 1/0 - Ex. Bob Simpson

Here's a 25 Franc coin when the US was taking cues from France. Okay it's 5 Dollars, but it's also 25 Frence Francs!

It's neat to think about a time when France was the leader of the free world.

@PerryHall said:
I always thought the US $2 1/2 gold coin had an unusual denomination.

Who was the dude in 18whatever that thought that anything money related that started with a 3 would acceptable?

@PerryHall said:
I always thought the US $2 1/2 gold coin had an unusual denomination.

Who was the dude in 18whatever that thought that anything money related that started with a 3 would acceptable?

@PerryHall said:
I always thought the US $2 1/2 gold coin had an unusual denomination.

Who was the dude in 18whatever that thought that anything money related that started with a 3 would acceptable?

Somebody who had seen a British Three Pence?

The 3c and $3 denominations are white elephants with respect to the assorted denominations the US has produced. No denomination other than $3 is an even multiple of 3c. All other minor denominations evenly divide $1. Even seemingly odd British denominations like 3 halfpence or 1/3 farthing could be combined to make larger denominations.

@messydesk said:
The 3c and $3 denominations are white elephants with respect to the assorted denominations the US has produced. No denomination other than $3 is an even multiple of 3c. All other minor denominations evenly divide $1. Even seemingly odd British denominations like 3 halfpence or 1/3 farthing could be combined to make larger denominations.

There are 15¢ fractional currency issues.

@planetsteve . Love the Onion. great satire and humor there. @Zoins. Thanks for the 'eighth dollar' coin. That is the first I have seen that denomination. Cheers, RickO

@messydesk said:
The 3c and $3 denominations are white elephants with respect to the assorted denominations the US has produced. No denomination other than $3 is an even multiple of 3c. All other minor denominations evenly divide $1. Even seemingly odd British denominations like 3 halfpence or 1/3 farthing could be combined to make larger denominations.

Reminds me of several scrip issuers during the Civil War who only issued 3 cent notes with the redemption clause that they must be redeemed in "sums of even dollars", meaning that one would have to accumulate 100 of them to redeem them.

Most unusual denomination that I recall for scrip was a 44 cent note from Michigan from the 1830s. However there are lots more unusual denominations in currency including bank issued $1.25, $1.50, $1.75, $3, $4, $6, $7, $8, $9, $11, $12, $13, $14, $15, $25, $30, etc. etc. etc.

Somewhat redundant, but not unusual denominations per se, but in 1879 there were $1, $2.50, $3.00, $4.00, and $5.00 gold coins minted. Yes, the Red Book calls the Stellas patterns, but they're listed between the $3 and $5 gold, not in the separate "Significant US Patterns" section.

Successful BST (me as buyer) with: Collectorcoins, PipestonePete, JasonRiffeRareCoins

@FredF said:
Somewhat redundant, but not unusual denominations per se, but in 1879 there were $1, $2.50, $3.00, $4.00, and $5.00 gold coins minted. Yes, the Red Book calls the Stellas patterns, but they're listed between the $3 and $5 gold, not in the separate "Significant US Patterns" section.

We had 2 cent, 20 cent and $20 coins. I wonder why we didn't have $2 coins!

I remember reading somewhere that the $3 denomination was thought to be used for the purpose of purchasing stamps, which came in sheets of 100 stamps priced at 3 cents per stamp. This meant one $3 gold piece could be used to directly purchase a sheet of stamps.

We had 2 cent and 20 cent coins. I wonder why we didn't have $2 coins!

@DNADave said:

This one is pretty unusual! I wonder what the reason was for this denomination?

I think that’s a casino token. I’ve also seen them in $3.50 and other odd denominations. Crappy reverse pic.

Big time cheating---not coins obviously, but I couldn't resist these because of the denominations. There is a $1.50 I still need for the DC set.


@stownsin said:
I remember reading somewhere that the $3 denomination was thought to be used for the purpose of purchasing stamps, which came in sheets of 100 stamps priced at 3 cents per stamp. This meant one $3 gold piece could be used to directly purchase a sheet of stamps.

I think your confusing the 3 cent coins with the $3 bill. The 3 cent coin was 1st class postage. Almost no one bought 100 stamp sheets in the 19th century. $3 was a lot of money.

@PerryHall said:
I always thought the US $2 1/2 gold coin had an unusual denomination.

If you think about it, there was the quarter of a dollar in the Coinage Act of 1792, and then there was the eagle ($10 gold) and the quarter eagle.

@stownsin said:
I remember reading somewhere that the $3 denomination was thought to be used for the purpose of purchasing stamps, which came in sheets of 100 stamps priced at 3 cents per stamp. This meant one $3 gold piece could be used to directly purchase a sheet of stamps.

According master numismatic author, Roger Burdette, the thought was that the $3 coin would be of aid in making change within the gold coin denominations rather than making it easier to buy stamps. My theory is that it was a product of the gold lobby, similar to the legislation that authorized the Twenty Cent Piece.

The $3 bill was not unusual amount the privately issued bank notes of the period. At one point there was a space provided for a $3 bill in the design of a Federally issued note, but it was never issued.

Call me a purist, but I don't consider patterns in the "unusual denomination" category. They were never struck to circulate.

The problem with socialism is that, eventually, you run out of other people's money.

@Lazybones said:
Call me a purist, but I don't consider patterns in the "unusual denomination" category. They were never struck to circulate.

I think the the effort was to create a circulating coin, even if it didn’t make it all the way through the process. It’s not as if people were creating random stuff on a whim.

The three cent was close enough in value to the Spanish-American 1/4 Real (technically 3-1/8th cents) to be interchangeable.

The $3 gold might have been marginally useful in paying off gold depositors upon settlement. When you deposited raw gold your settlement amount after refining was likely to be some odd amount. When you got paid off in gold, unless you had specified a certain denomination you received $10's and/or $20's (depending on the year) and maybe one $5 and maybe a $2-1/2 and maybe a gold dollar or two and the rest in silver and copper. This is no doubt why San Francisco struck small quantities of $2-1/2's and $5's in 1854, along with a larger number of gold dollars.

By having a wider variety of denominations in the Mint's cash payout till it might have been easier to pay out as much of the odd amounts in gold as possible, though if I had been in charge I would not have had a problem with paying out three $1 gold pieces in lieu of one $3 gold piece.

Never noticed it before, but the 1854 $3 is the only gold denomination not minted in San Francisco that year.

Anyone have info on why none were issued?

There were both D and O mints issued in 1854, the only year in the series that had two branch mints. The first S mint was started the next year in 1855.
Some issues did get worn out. Here is an 1857-S:

"To Be Esteemed Be Useful" - 1792 Birch Cent --- "I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain." - Lily Tomlin

Silver Half Dollars (1794-1970, 1976 and 1992-Present Proofs)

We don’t often see half dollars anymore, but they once were a major part of everyday commerce. And until 1971 they were made of silver!

While the concept of using a 50-cent coin as money is unfamiliar to many (because they aren’t commonly found in circulation and really haven’t been for several decades now), there are some rare and valuable silver half dollars out there worth looking for!

See what half dollars are made of — and how the metal composition of U.S. half dollars has changed through the years.

Find answers to your questions about silver half dollars and the value of these coins here:

History of Italian lira

The lira (plural lire) was the currency of the Italy between 1861 and 2002. Between 1999 and 2002, the Italian lira was officially a “national subunit” of the euro. However, physical payments could only be made in lire, as no euro coins and notes were available.
The lira was also the currency of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy between 1807 and 1814.
The term originates from the value of a pound weight of high purity silver and as such is a direct cognate of the British pound sterling in some countries, such as Cyprus and Malta, the words lira and pound were used as equivalents, before the eurowas adopted in 2008 in the two countries. “L”, sometimes in a double-crossed script form (“?”), was usually used as the symbol. Until the Second World War, it was subdivided into 100 centesimi (singular: centesimo), which translates to “one hundredth”.
The Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy issued coins between 1807 and 1813 in denominations of 1 and 3 centesimi and 1 soldo in copper, 10 centesimi in 20% silver alloy, 5, 10 and 15 soldi, 1, 2 and 5 lire in 90% silver and 20 and 40 lire in 90% gold. All except the 10 centesimi bore a portrait of Napoleon, with the denominations below 1 lira also showing a radiate crown and the higher denominations, a shield representing the various constituent territories of the Kingdom.
In 1861, coins were minted in Florence, Milan, Naples and Turin in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 centesimi, 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 lire, with the lowest four in copper, the highest two in gold and the remainder in silver. In 1863, silver coins below 5 lire were debased from 90% to 83.5% and silver 20 centesimi coins were introduced. Minting switched to Rome in the 1870s.
Apart from the introduction in 1894 of cupro-nickel (later nickel) 20 centesimi coins and of nickel 25 centesimi pieces in 1902, the coinage remained essentially unaltered until the First World War.

In 1919, with a purchase power of the lira reduced to 1/5 of that of 1914, the production of all earlier coin types except for the nickel 20 centesimi halted, and smaller, copper 5 and 10 centesimi and nickel 50 centesimi coins were introduced, followed by nickel 1 and 2 lire pieces in 1922 and 1923, respectively. In 1926, silver 5 and 10 lire coins were introduced, equal in size and composition to the earlier 1 and 2 lire coins. Silver 20 lire coins were added in 1927.
In 1936, the last substantial issue of silver coins was made, whilst, in 1939, moves to reduce the cost of the coinage lead to copper being replaced by aluminium bronze and nickel by stainless steel. All issuance of coinage came to a halt in 1943.
In 1951, the government again issued notes, this time simply bearing the title “Repubblica Italiana”. Denominations were of 50 and 100 lire (replacing the Bank of Italy notes) and they circulated until coins of these denominations were introduced in the mid 1950s. In 1966, 500 lire notes were introduced (again replacing Bank of Italy notes) which were produced until replaced in 1982 by a coin.
In 1967, 50,000 and 100,000 lire notes were introduced by the Bank of Italy, followed by 20,000 lire in 1975 and 500,000 lire in 1997.

The minting of Italian lira coins was suspended in 1999 and the euro was officially introduced in Italy on 1 January 2002. Italian euro coins have a layout different to each denomination, although there are a lot of themes of works by one of the most famed and known Italian artists. Every coin is created by a different designer, from the one cent to the two euro coin they are – Eugenio Driutti, Luciana De Simoni, Ettore Lorenzo Frapiccini, Claudia Momoni, Maria Angela Cassol, Roberto Mauri, Laura Cretara and Maria Carmela Colaneri. All of them feature the 12 stars of the EU, the year of imprint, the overlapping letters “RI” for Repubblica Italiana or Italian Republic and the letter R for Rome. There are no Italian euro coins dated earlier than 2002, even though they were certainly minted earlier, as they were first introduced in circulation to the public in December 2001.


Union and Confederate guns fell silent in April 1865, but the civilian population was slow to give up certain behavior acquired during the four years of bloody civil war. No one in the North felt especially charitable toward the South, and few seriously considered rebuilding what industry had existed there before the outbreak of hostilities in 1861. Specie payments had been suspended by the government in 1862 and peace had not seen the return of silver or gold coins to circulation. Citizens continued to hoard all forms of coinage that contained precious metal, and even copper-nickel cents were set aside for their limited intrinsic value.

During the war the federal government issued series after series of fractional currency. These “shinplasters” as they were known, rapidly soiled in circulation and were despised by the public. When yet another five-cent issue of fractional currency was introduced in 1865, it was enough to push Mint Director James Pollock to endorse a five-cent coin made of nickel. Pollock had previously been an opponent of nickel coinage. He saw first hand how difficult 12% nickel coins (the 1857-64 cents) were to strike and how the hard, brittle metal broke dies and injured the Mint’s machinery. He also knew how politically persuasive one Joseph Wharton was in the halls of Congress. Wharton owned the largest nickel mine in America and had lobbied Congress for many years to use the metal in the nation’s coinage. But after the third issue of five-cent fractional currency was released to unfavorable public opinion, Pollock was finally convinced that the nation’s best interests would be served by striking a new five-cent coin in nickel, even if it meant adding to the already wide assortment of small denomination coins then in use. These included the half cent, large cent, copper-nickel cent, two-cent piece, three-cent nickel, three-cent silver and silver half-dime. Most of these coins were not circulating due to wartime hoarding. Pollock looked at the nickel five-cent piece as a temporary measurea coin that would circulate and replace the universally unpopular fractional notes until such a time as the silver half-dime could return to circulation.

As Chief Engraver it fell to James Longacre to design the new coin. Various patterns were executed, the most interesting ones featuring profiles of Washington or Lincoln, but the issue of portraying actual persons on coinage was far from resolved. In fact it was a particularly sensitive subject as the five-cent fractional currency the new coins would replace depicted the likeness of Spencer M. Clark, then head of the Currency Bureau, not the explorer William Clark as Congress had been led to believe. Unable to use a portrait, Longacre merely modified the motif he used two years earlier on the two-cent piece. Although the adopted design does have a certain geometric balance, it is artistically weak. Even nickel monopolist Joseph Wharton, the man who stood to make more money than anyone else from the new coin, was disappointed. He described the coin as having ” . . . a tombstone surmounted by a cross overhung by weeping willows.” The design was actually a shield with the cross of the Order of Calatrava at the top, flanked by a wreath on both sides. The reverse, while simply designed, was initially controversial. The central device shows a large numeral 5 and is surrounded by thirteen stars with thirteen sets of rays between the stars. At the time of issue, some believed Southern sympathizers had infiltrated the Mint and placed the Confederate “Stars and Bars” on the reverse. The new coins seldom struck up well and more dies were broken striking Shield nickels than all other denominations added together. During the first two years of issue the rays were retained on the reverse, but early in 1867 they were eliminated as Mint officials believed this design element prevented the coins from striking up completely.

As originally proposed, the nickel five-cent piece was to weigh not more than 60 grains (or 3.88 grams expressed metrically) and be composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel. The House Coinage Committee intended for the new coin’s weight to be expressed in metric units, but could not bring itself to publicly state so. The next metric weight would have been four grams, but this unit was mysteriously bypassed and five grams was the weight adopted. But rather than express the weight in this simple term, the enabling legislation required the coin weigh 77.16 grains, the English equivalent of five grams.

Shield nickels were only struck in the Philadelphia Mint, and more than 126 million were produced from 1866 until the next design change in 1883. For such a short-lived series there are a surprising number of rarities. The two key issues are from 1877 and 1878 when only proofs were struck. Among business strikes, the years 1879-1881 are low mintage dates and worth large premiums in all grades. There are two overdates, the 1879/8an overdated proofand the 1883/2. Proofs were struck every year and include one of the most important 19th century raritiesthe proof 1867 nickel with rays. Only 25 pieces are believed to have been struck. Counterfeits are plentiful bearing the dates 1870-76, and they were widely circulated in the New York-New Jersey area during the 1870s. They are not deceptive, however, as the design differs slightly from genuine coins. Striking details are often ill-defined on Shield nickels, and high grade coins that are weakly struck must be graded by the amount of mint luster still remaining. The points to first show wear are the cross and leaves on the obverse and the numeral 5 on the reverse.

Shield nickels are collected by both date and type collectors. Although a relatively short-lived series, it’s challenging to collect by date because of the scarce, low mintage issues. Assembling sets of fully struck coins by date, however, can be somewhat frustrating. Type collectors usually acquire one example each of the Rays and No Rays design. E

In 1883 the Shield nickel was dropped in favor of Charles Barber’s new Greco-Roman headed Liberty nickel. The Shield nickel, though, was the first nickel five-cent piece, and while the design has changed several times since 1866, the basic 5 gram “nickel” has remained a mainstay of our modern coinage system.

PHOTO PROOF – Copyright © 1994-2014 Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. All rights reserved.

Knowing the value of your paper money collection is daunting. From Gold Certificates to Republic of Texas & Confederate Notes, mistakes, misprints, error, and obsolete currency, our experts at U.S. Coins and Jewelry have seen it all. Our paper money experts are constantly studying the market to ensure that you get an accurate and fair price for your paper money.

At U.S. Coins and Jewelry, we are the leading source for buying and selling paper money in the Greater Houston Area and have been for over 35 years. Contact us at (713) 597-6367 or fill out our online appraisal form to sell your paper money and currencies today!

Paper currency has been used as a medium for commerce since the early ancient Chinese Dynasties. Paper currency, or often called banknotes, are a type of negotiable currency created by a bank as a promissory note payable on demand. Originally, paper money was used as a promise to deliver coin-based currency in an exchange of commerce. Over the years, the easy&ndashto&ndashcarry paper currency simply became more popular than heavier coins and it cost less to produce.

At U.S. Coins & Jewelry, we buy and sell a large selection of collectible US Currency from small size silver certificates to large size treasury notes, banknotes, and even confederate currency. We also carry unique and obsolete currency, Republic of Texas currency, and high denomination notes such as $500 and $1000 Federal Reserve Notes. Whether you are buying or selling, we have expert appraisers on-site. Our professionals and their expertise in the field of currency knowledge allows us to provide buyers and sellers with the highest quality currency selling services. Plus, our experienced buyers have decades of experience with paper currency and banknote sales.


Since the early settlers, currency has been an essential part of commerce. While precious metals like gold and silver were not widely mined, notes were the payment method used as an active currency. Early on, Continental Congress knew the importance of paper currency and the impact it would have on commerce and production.

Through the decades and generations, different forms of currency were created out of necessity, such as Confederate Currency (This is because Silver and Gold was being hoarded or depleted during the time of the Civil War). Fractional Currency and Large Size Currency became important post-Civil War simply because they offered financial resources when the country was rebuilding. As these rare currency notes became more important throughout time, each is shaped by an important historical event that adds to the already high value of these notes.

Even in modern times, Small Size Bank Notes and MPC&rsquos were printed and played an important role in United States currency. At U.S. Coins and Jewelry, we carry a large selection of rare money. Learn more about variations of rare currency by understanding the history of our rare U.S. currency below.

A gold certificate, in general, is a certificate of ownership that gold owners hold instead of storing the actual gold. It has both a historic meaning as a U.S. paper currency (1863&ndash1933) and a current meaning as a way to invest in gold.

Historic Gold Certificates: From 1863 to 1933, the U.S. Treasury issued gold certificates that were redeemable for gold. They were generally for interbank transfers rather than consumer use. In 1933, the U.S. Treasury requested the return of all gold certificates. Not everyone obeyed, and today these documents are rare collectibles. These gold certificates are no longer redeemable for gold. of 1928 Gold Certificates Denominations printed and issued were: $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1000, $5000, and $10,000. The four lower denominations are generally available.

A silver certificate, like a gold certificate, is a certificate of ownership that silver owners hold instead of storing the actual silver. Several countries have issued silver certificates, including Cuba, the Netherlands, and the United States.

Historic Silver Certificates: Silver certificates were issued between 1878 and 1964 in the United States as part of its circulation of paper currency. They were produced in response to silver agitation by citizens who were angered by the Fourth Coinage Act, which had effectively placed the United States on a gold standard. The certificates were initially redeemable for their face value in silver dollar coins and available in denominations of One, Five, and Ten Dollars. Besides the historic collector value of these notes, there are several advantages to owning silver certificates.

Of all U.S. paper money, the large-size notes issued before 1929 offer the greatest variety of beautiful, artistic designs, subject matter, and history. Large Size U.S. Type Notes are the most popular area of collecting currency today. The reason is simple: The design and artwork of these pieces of history is simply breathtaking. Their unique themes and symbolic design elements make them prized by collectors worldwide. Large-size notes measure a big 7 3/8 x 3 1/8 inches, and were affectionately nicknamed &ldquoHorseblankets&rdquo because of their huge size! The highly detailed designs on large-size notes are considered some of the finest examples of the art of engraving.

Small-size legal tender notes were printed from 1928 to 1966. They are also sometimes referred to as United States Notes. They will have a red seal and an 8 digital serial number. As a type, most legal tender notes are very common. 1928 $1s are generally considered the rarest and will have the highest premium over face value. 1966A $100 red seals are the least common and are generally worth around 15% more than their regular 1966 counterparts. Do note that some 1928 series $2s and $5s can have a higher value than some others, it all depends on condition and series letter (1928D, 1928F, etc).

The United States issued green seal federal reserve notes for four different high denominations. These notes feature William McKinley ($500), Grover Cleveland ($1,000), James Madison ($5,000), and Salmon Chase ($10,000) as their portraits. Surprisingly, many $500 and $1,000 notes still exist. It is thought that there are over 150,000 $1,000 bills left unredeemed, and over 250,000 $500 bills are available to collectors. However, it is thought that there is less than 700 ultra-high denomination ($5K & $10K) notes left.

$506,000 and $511,000 notes are extremely valuable, and if you have one, we encourage you to contact us. Even $1001 and $502,000 can have high values depending on their serial number and which district issued them.

The Republic of Texas first issued paper money in 1837. This currency was called &ldquoStar Money&rdquo for the small star on the face of the bill. The star money was not face value currency, but rather interest-bearing notes (similar to a treasury bill) that circulated by being endorsed over to the next payee. In 1838, Texas issued &ldquochange notes&rdquo with elaborate designs on the front and blank backs.

In 1839 Texas &ldquoRedbacks&rdquo was issued. The government printed over two million dollars in redbacks, which were initially worth about 37 cents to a U.S. dollar. The Redbacks were issued in the denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500 bills.

If you have never actually seen an authentic Texas Redback, they are very ornate in their design and very collectible. It&rsquos like touching a piece of early Texas History. But beware, these historic bills have been reproduced as a novelty item, and replicas are very common. If you are interested in buying, selling, or authenticating Republic of Texas Currency, U.S. Coins and Jewelry can help. We offer free appraisal services along with a full line of Authentic Texas Currency.

Confederate paper money is very collectible in today&rsquos market, especially if the money is rare and/or in perfect condition. However, a lot of Confederate Money we see is actually reproductions or fake since it has been reproduced as a novelty item for over a century.

The Confederate States of America released their first issue of paper money when their provisional government was only two months old in April of 1861. The Civil War began that same month. The US Congress, on the brink of bankruptcy and pressed to finance the Civil War, authorized the United States Treasury to issue paper money for the first time that same year. The US notes were in the form of non-interest bearing Treasury Notes called Demand Notes.

The total amount of currency issued under the various acts of the Confederate Congress totaled $3.7 billion. Due to the scarcity of metal, however, the Confederacy never issued coins, instead of releasing seventy different paper note &lsquotypes&rsquo between 1861 and 1865. If you are interested in buying, selling, or authenticating your Confederate Currency, U.S. Coins and Jewelry can help. We offer free appraisal services along with a line of Authentic Confederate Currency.

During World War II The United States issued special currency for the island of Hawaii and for troops in North Africa. The Hawaii notes feature a brown seal and are overstamped with the word &ldquoHAWAII&rdquo on the front and back of the note. Hawaii notes, as they are generally called by collectors, were printed for the Hawaiian Islands for use during World War II. The idea was that if the money supply in Hawaii was taken over by the Japanese that the United States could devalue any money that said Hawaii on it. Today we have wonderful collectible currency associated with a popular state. Hawaii notes are still good today at face value. Most new collectors are attracted to Hawaii silver certificates and federal reserve notes because they are different, but they fall into many collecting categories. If you are interested in buying, selling, or authenticating WWII or Hawaii Notes, U.S. Coins and Jewelry can help. We offer free appraisal services, simply stop by our showroom or click here to contact us.

Error note collecting is very popular and often one of the initial types of notes that attract new collectors and outsiders to the numismatic hobby. These mistakes are aberrations of the production process. They fascinate the viewer and challenge the collector. Paper money errors possess enormous appeal to a wide spectrum of viewers and collectors. Most people already familiar with a &ldquonormal&rdquo note, marvel at the obvious deviation and frequently assume that such a piece must be worth a king&rsquos ransom. Although error notes have always commanded a premium above a generic example of the same, errors are surprisingly affordable especially in light of their relative and absolute rarity. Also, any mistake released through normal banking channels is perfectly legal to own. If you are interested in buying or selling error notes, we offer free appraisal services, simply stop by our showroom or click here to contact us.

Obsolete paper money is a term that is used to describe any state issued banknote that is no longer redeemable at its face value. Every banknote printed before 1860 is considered to be obsolete. Any time you see paper money that has something like &ldquoState of&rdquo written on it, that is an obsolete banknote.

Obsolete paper money was only printed under the authority of the bank. It was never backed by precious metals or by the government. So when ever the bank went out of business then all the paper money it issued instantly became worthless. Obsolete money is valued the same way any other paper money is valued. It is all about condition and rarity.



scale with which to judge image sizes

All items are guaranteed to be genuine, unless clearly indicated otherwise.
NOTE: All pictures are of a typical item taken from stock. Because we have multiples of most items, the item you receive may not look exactly the same, however it will be as described.