Monday, July 17, 2017

New York Bills

On Friday I wrote about a vendue held on Hatteras Island in 1812. The Notice included this sentence: "[The] articles...will be sold for Dollars and Cents, or New-York Bills."

I wondered what a New-York Bill was. This is what I learned. "For most of the colonial period, trade consisted of bartering and using foreign money. But soon, the colonies began printing their own money, which functioned more like a gift certificate. The bill would allow the recipient to withdraw silver money from a bank" (

The New York Bill pictured above says, "THIS BILL shall pass current in all Payments in this State for TWO SPANISH MILLED DOLLARS, or the Value thereof in Gold or Silver; according to the Resolution of the Convention of New-York, on the Thirteenth Day of August, 1776."

It also says, "Tis Death to counterfeit."

According to Wikipedia, "The Spanish dollar was the coin upon which the original United States dollar was based, and it remained legal tender in the United States until the Coinage Act of 1857."

Spanish Dollar, Photo by Coinman62

Even on the remote islands of the Outer Banks New York Bills and Spanish Dollars were still being used as late as the early nineteenth century. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a recording of Rex O'Neal telling about the time he fell overboard when he was gigging for flounder. The story was recorded for Coastal Voices, an oral history project about the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks and Down East region of coastal North Carolina. Click here to listen to Rex telling his story:   

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:27 AM

    When did the Colonies have their "Brexit" was it 1857 a few short years before the Civil War, my word. Was everyone so accepting to no longer being on the "euro"/ Spanish dollar? Was everyone so willing to give up their Spanish coins and so eager to accept this CHANGE to a single paper currancy?? What an interesting thought don't you think. Was everyone so trusting of their new way of doing things- there was always bartering that wasn't outlawed but it can only go so far I guess......,