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Fractional Currency

Fractional Currency is genuine United States currency that was issued under authority of the Congress between 1862 and 1875. Fractional currency was issued in 3 Cent, 5 Cent, 10 Cent, 15 Cent, 25 Cent and 50 Cent denominations in five different series. Because of a severe shortage of coinage during and just after the Civil War, people started using postage stamps for small purchases and merchants gave out change the same way. Unfortunately, postage stamps did not hold up very well in daily repeated use, got stuck together and generally were not a viable alternative to coinage. It is said that the Postmaster General of the United States was looking at some postage stamps on his desk when he came up with the idea of creating fractional currency. The first issue actually depicted postage stamps, with the 25 cent note showing (5) five cent stamps side by side and the fifty cent note showing (5) 10 cent stamps side by side. The 3 Cent note was issued because the cost to mail a First Class letter at the time was 3 cents. By the late 1870s coinage was again plentiful and fractional currency was no longer a viable form of payment for small purchases.

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