August 22, 2013

Pressed Between the Pages - Four

I really learned something while researching this last find. Pressed between the pages of the old 1885 history book were four of these...

 As you can see, this one is in terrible condition as were three of the four bills. 
One can imagine it crumpled in someone's pocket as the crinkled surface indicates!
 Measuring about 2 inches x 4 inches, these are fractional currency, printed by our Federal Government in denominations of  5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and used to take the place of copper, silver and gold coins which were in shortage during the Civil War and for awhile beyond.

Only the mint in Philadelphia was pumping out coinage in the United States at the time, beginning in 1793, and keeping enough coins in circulation was a problem.  It became even more of an issue when the Civil War began and people began to hoard coins, leaving storekeepers and banks and well, everyone, short on ways to make change and pay for small objects.  The government tried a stamp system which did not work at all, and finally on August 21, 1862, fractional currency notes were printed, with the approval of President Lincoln and a Postage Act.

At first the sheets of bills were perforated, but that machine could not keep up, so eventually the bills were cut by hand with scissors.  The government kept fiddling with ways to thwart counterfeiting and seemed to get it right by the last two issues of the bills, the fourth and fifth issues.

Two 25 cent bills were found and both were Fifth Issue bills, printed between February 26, 1874 and February 15, 1876 with blue end paper.  Robert Walker, Secretary of the Treasury between 1845 and 1849, was the image on this denomination. (See above.)

 This bill is the best one, a Fifth Issue 50 cent bill, printed between July 1875 and February 1876.  The photo is of William H. Crawford, U. S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1816 - 1825.  It's often called the "Bob Hope" note because of Crawford's likeness to Bob Hope.

The 10 cent bill pressed between the pages was in very poor condition to the point that most of it was unreadable and very fragile.  
By the time of the Fifth Issue in 1875, it was thought by many that a shortage of coins no longer existed and probably this issue was not needed.  Hence the issue period was very short - only six months.

All the bills were carefully pressed individually inside folds of tissue paper.  So now I wonder who placed them there? 

And then, pressed in the pages ... there was the beautiful lock of yellow, blond hair, tied with a ribbon.  Was it from a child of the Leighty's who died?  Or a more recent addition?  We'll never know.

No comments:

Post a Comment