By Jack Stanley
This early issue was produced in the North (In NYC) during the civil war sometime between August 1862 through May of 1863. They were to use as money and designed to allow people to buy stamps as coinage was scarce at the time.
Fractional Currency notes were produced from August 21, 1862 through February 15, 1876. Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon Chase proposed to authorize postage stamps of some type as a new currency. Congress and President Lincoln approved the Postage Currency Act on July 17, 1862, which authorized an issue of the notes. I will be talking about the first issues not those of the post civil war period.
The first Issues became known as Postage Stamp Currency because they bore facsimiles of the then current 5 and 10 cent postage stamps. Postage Currency (first Issues) were never legal tender but could be exchanged for United States Notes (money) in $5 lots and receivable in payment of all dues to the United States, up to $5.
In the first few months of production, the sheets were perforated like stamps. These sheets were sold to banks and the public in sheets and you could tear off the notes needed with ease. The perforating machine could not keep up with the heavy demand. Therefore, the stamps were printed on plain sheets that were cut with scissors. This made for some badly sized notes.
All of these notes were produced and printed in New York City, at the National Bank Note Company. This company was located at The Merchant’s Exchange Building at 55 Wall Street. The building in which they were located still stands.
This style and those of the first production run were changed in 1863 to a more colorful and better designed style to prevent counterfeit designs. As there were many problems with the size and style of these early notes. The one stamp/bill shown here is from that early period and shows Thomas Jefferson on the front on a five cent stamp of the time.
They are a rather odd and rare part of Civil war history and the early days of bill making in the United States, or what was existing of the United States at that time. One of the more unusual styles of a form of currency. And it all happened in New York.