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money museum continental currency one-sixth of a dollar

 

 

 
    Continental Currency One-Sixth of
  a Dollar, February 17, 1776

The Continental Congress decided in May 1775 to issue paper money to finance the war. More and more "continentals" flowed into circulation as the war progressed, and people realized that Congress could not possibly redeem them in Spanish dollars, gold, or silver. This loss of confidence brought rapid declines in the purchasing power of Continental currency. "Not worth a Continental" became a common place saying.

Continental currency issued between 1775 and 1779 amounted to some $240 million, a staggering sum for a new nation. Most Continentals were issued in denominations of $1 or more, but some were issued in fractional denominations.

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