30 Dollars, Continental Congress, Philadelphia, 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.
Currently not on view
date made
date on object
Continental Congress
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
thread (part material)
overall: 7.2 cm x 9.2 cm x .01 cm; 2 27/32 in x 3 5/8 in x in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
Legendary Coins
Coins, Currency and Medals
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object