A Project of the Robert H. Gore, Jr. Numismatic Endowment
University of Notre Dame,Department of Special Collections
by Louis Jordan

Frequently Asked Questions about Colonial Currency

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How to identify reproductions of Colonial Currency

Here are some ways you may be able to check to determine if your note is from the colonial era.

  1. Originals should have at least one signature (and probably the numbering) in red ink.
  2. If the ink for the handwritten portions is the same as the ink used for the printed text you probably have reproductions.

I should mention recent reproductions include red ink but have the word facsimile in very small print along a margin border. Older reproductions (from the 1960's or 70's) will not have any statement that they are reproductions but can usually be detected by their artificially yellowed appearance. Click here for examples of modern reproductions.

If your issues are Continental Currency or from Pennsylvania, genuine notes from these issues were made from a special paper which contained thin blue threads as well as mica flakes. Continental Currency from the emission of Jan. 14, 1779 have the watermark UNITED STATES or CONFEDERATION (depending on the denomination) in the paper and can be seen if the paper is held up to a light. Several of the 1780 milled dollar issues from various states were printed in Philadelphia and use the UNITED STATES watermark paper.

Beyond these steps you should take the notes to a dealer for verification.

Many modern reproductions and replicas exist. In fact, packets of different notes are sold for $1.95 at Williamsburg and other colonial sites. The largest producer of reproductions of colonial notes is The Historical Documents Company, 2555 Orthodox Street, Philadelphia, 2555 Orthodox Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19137 tel: 1-888-700-7265. Packet A contains: $10 New York 1775; $8 Maryland 1774; 15s. Pennsylvania 1773; 5s. Delaware 1776; $4 Georgia 1777; 5s. South Carolina 1778; 18d. New Jersey 1776. Packet B contains: $20 United States Continental Currency 1778; $4 North Carolina 1778; $8 Massachusetts-Bay 1780; $7 New Hampshire 1780 (hole cancelled); 10s. Connecticut 1780; $3 Rhode Island 1780; $250 Virginia 1781.