Emergency Money


When the nation's banks closed during the Depression, Leiter's Pharmacy in Pismo Beach, California, issued this clamshell as change.

The 1929 stock market crash triggered banking panics, as people rushed to withdraw their savings before they were lost. In March 1933, President Roosevelt ordered a four-day bank holiday to prevent further withdrawals. To compensate for the currency shortage, communities created emergency money, or scrip. This clamshell was signed as it changed hands and redeemed when cash became available again.

Date Made: 1933Used Date: 1933

Referenced: Leiter's Pharmacy

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: California, Pismo BeachUsed: United States: California, Pismo Beach

Related Event: Bank Holiday of 1933


See more items in: Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection, National Treasures exhibit, Coins, Currency and Medals


Exhibition Location:

Related Web Publication: http://americanhistory.si.edu/treasures

Related Publication: Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History, National Museum of American History. Treasures of American History online exhibition

Credit Line: Chase Manhattan Bank

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1979.1263.00467Accession Number: 1979.1263Catalog Number: 79.112.OC102A

Object Name: shell money, clamalternative currencyOther Terms: shell money, clam; North America; California, Pismo Beach

Physical Description: shells, clam (overall material)ink (overall material)white/yellow (overall color)black (overall color)marked with ink (overall production method/technique)Measurements: average spatial: 97.9 mm x 133.6 mm; x 3 7/8 in x 5 1/4 in

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746b4-15e0-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1066275

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