Maryland, 1 2/3 Dollars, 1775

Description
American currency was sometimes used to mold public opinion during the War for Independence. The high-minded Latin mottoes suggested by Ben Franklin had this intent. So did a series of small, printed messages on North Carolina currency issued between 1778 and 1780. But an early series of Maryland notes, including this specimen, stand out.
The note is worn, and, in common with several of its fellows, it was carefully stitched together, obscuring part of the design. But if we could see everything, we would see that, on the front of the note, a figure representing Great Britain receives a petition of the Continental Congress. It is handed to her by an America, who is simultaneously trampling on a scroll marked SLAVERY and holding aloft a Liberty cap on a pole, a beacon for American troops who are hastening to the scene from the right.
Meanwhile, George III (the figure at the center-left) is doing his best to set fire to an American city (perhaps Baltimore) already under attack from a British fleet. He's also trampling a copy of Magna Charta, just to underscore the point. Inscriptions along the sides read "AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN" and "PRO ARIS ET FOCIS" (For altars and hearths). The other side of the note conveys hope. Britain and America are shown achieving peace, with the reminder that "PAX TRIUMPHIS POTIOR" (Peace is preferable to victory).
The note was designed by Annapolis silversmith Thomas Sparrow in the summer of 1775. His initials are inscribed on the front and his full name on the back. This series of Maryland notes remains the most politically charged currency ever issued in the United States during wartime.
Date made
1775
maker
Maryland
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 60 mm x 115 mm; 2 3/8 in x 4 1/2 in
Place Made
United States: Maryland
ID Number
2005.0142.01
accession number
2005.0142
catalog number
2005.0142.01
subject
Coins, Currency and Medals
Legendary Coins
Coins
Numismatics
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
Legendary Coins
Coins
Numismatics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Publication title
Glossary of Coins and Currency Terms
Publication URL
http://americanhistory.si.edu/coins/glossary.cfm
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.