Virginia, 15 Dollars, 1776

The American colonies (or states, as they now began calling themselves) issued currency of their own to pay war expenses and keep local economies afloat. Issues from Virginia featured an armored Amazon brandishing a sword. She stands above and on the prone body of a dead male ruler, whose crown has fallen on the ground. The motto could not be more plain: SIC SEMPER TYRANNUS (Be it ever thus to tyrants). This vivid image still adorns the Virginia state flag.
Unlike most Revolutionary War currency, this note was printed on only one side. And the paper for its printing left something to be desired. It looks as if this note were forcibly torn in two. But whether it was torn deliberately or by accident, someone pinned it back together-crudely but effectively.
The denomination is given as "fifteen Spanish milled dollars." Those coins were the famous "pieces of eight," now minted by machinery ("milled") in Mexico City and elsewhere. They were the monies of choice when coins were available, and Americans liked them so much that they eventually based their own United States dollar on the Spanish-American prototype.
Currently not on view
Object Name
paper money
date made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink, black (overall material)
steel pin (part material)
overall: 70 mm x 92 mm; 2 3/4 in x 3 5/8 in
place made
United States: Virginia
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Coins, Currency and Medals
Legendary Coins
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
Legendary Coins
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
B. M. Douglas
Publication title
Glossary of Coins and Currency Terms
Publication URL

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