Revolutionary War Currency
Long before the current paper bills that you carry around in your wallet today, early American currency was much different. Gold was also a popular means of trading goods and in order to make it more of a standard, gold coins were made. When the British colonies started to populate the United States, back in the 1700's, they needed a way to trade goods. Unfortunately their was a shortage of coins in the colonies so they used many different forms of currency. The first official currency among the colonies was issues by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1690. It was a paper based money and was accepted throughout the colony as legal tender. Other colonies followed their lead and produced these paper based money systems.
Later in the 1700's, banks started issuing currency that was secured by mortgages on property. The first to do this was the Pennsylvania Land Bank and it was widely accepted by political leaders. Unfortunately the British colonies didn't like the colonies using their own currency and they tried to restrict it's issue, but during the American Revolutionary War, paper money was issued and it helped to finance the war.
In 1775, the Contintental Congress began issuing Continental Dollars in several denominations. The initial value of a Continental Dollar was equal to a Spanish pillar dollar. Unfortunately, the Congress issued more currency than it could back with precious metals and the value began to slide quickly. By 1781, the value dropped to 1/75th the value of its Spanish counterpart.
A number of banks followed in making currency including the Bank of Maryland, Bank of Massachusetts, Bank of North America, Bank of the United States and The Second Bank of the United States. Into the 1800's thousands of banks emerged, especially during the 1830's to 1860's and they each issued currency as well. It wasn't until after the 1900's that the Federal Reserve came into existence and started to regulate the banks.
Many collectors choose to collector early American currency issued by the many banks which have since long failed or merged into other institutions.