legendary Coins and Currency
Exhibition Collection Search Timeline Game Visit
Legendary FirstsLegendary BeautiesUnexpected LegendsGolden LegendsLegends of the Human Spirit
Enter the Online Exhibition (Flash Required)
Image of United States, 30 Dollars, 1776
View details Switch between front and back
Zoom using Flash

Purchase this image

Materials: Paper
Measurement: 7.2 x 9.2 cm
Source: Stack's

United States, 30 Dollars, 1776

The thirty-dollar note was the highest denomination issued during the first three years or so of Continental Currency. We might wonder why the authorities issued such an odd denomination. The answer is that what seems odd to us seemed perfectly logical to them.

The thirty-dollar bills — and threes, fours, sixes, and eights, as well as bills worth a sixth, or a third, or two-thirds of a dollar — were put into circulation for two reasons. First, some of them were conscious substitutes for coins of the same value. And second, they were there to make change: if all you have in circulation is paper currency, you had better give the public the money it needs.

So if a merchant got an eight-dollar Continental note in payment for a five-dollar object, he could give the customer a three in return. This situation in fact lasted through the mid-1860s. Notes in today’s familiar denominations are a recent phenomenon.

The image on the face of the note speaks to the advantages of righteous dealing (appropriate for a commercial object such as this note). The images on the back present two views on the reasons for the war against England. The left one (VI CONCITATAE) suggests that the colonies were forced into the conflict, while the one on the right (CESSANTE VENTO CONQUIESCEMUS) promises that they would rest and revive after it was over.

Continental currency often split in half because it was frequently folded. This bill was sewn back together to repair it.
Related Events
1774: First Continental Congress convenes in Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia.
1775: Addressing the Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry declares, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
1776: Americans sign their Declaration of Independence, formally beginning a war with Great Britain.
1781: General Cornwallis surrenders a large British army to General Washington at Yorktown, Va.
1789: The United States Constitution is adopted, creating a strong federal government.
Legends of the Human Spirit The following objects are in this section.
United States, 2 Dollars, 1776Connecticut, 2 Shillings 6 Pence, 1776Confederacy, 1 Dollar, 1862
United States, 30 Dollars, 1776Confederacy, 5 Dollars, 1862Norfolk, Nebraska, 1 Dollar, 1933
Virginia, 15 Dollars, 1776Confederacy, 5 Dollars, 1863Pismo Beach, California, 1 Dollar, 1933
Maryland, 1 2/3 Dollars, 1775Confederacy, 10 Dollars, 1863Pismo Beach, California, 50 Cents, 1933
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Learning Resources Flash Exhibition
Copyright© Privacy Policy Press Credits