Collection Inspiration: Tiny Notes
Posted on 2/21/2023
Sometimes less is more — and banknotes are no exception. From fractional currency to rare emergency issues, these tiny banknotes come in all shapes and sizes… but all of them are smaller than the average US dollar! If you’re looking for a way to start a collection of banknotes, these tiny notes may be the perfect way to start.
Ten Tiny Notes
US (1860s) 3 Cents Third Issue Fractional Currency ND (1862-1876)
Though these fractional currency notes were short-lived, they had an instrumental role in keeping the US economy going during the American Civil War. People began hoarding their coins after the war’s outbreak in 1861, causing coin circulation to drop dramatically. To remedy this, the US Treasury began issuing fractional currency notes, like this 3 Cents Third Issue, featuring George Washington on the front. The note shown here is about 2.6 inches by 1.6 inches, or roughly one quarter the size of the Federal Reserve Notes that Americans use today as everyday currency.
|3 Cents Third Issue Fractional Currency graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated EPQClick images to enlarge.|
Keeling Cocos / British Administration 1902 1/10 Rupee
In 1857, the British Empire annexed the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, which lie about halfway between Australia and India. Merchant John Clunies-Ross II (whose father had settled on the islands in 1825) was appointed superintendent and eventually granted the role of resident magistrate and government representative by Queen Victoria in 1886. Clunies-Ross II and his family would retain this role until the islands were transferred to Australian control in 1978.
The Cocos (Keeling) islands used the official currency of the ruling country (Great Britain and eventually Australia), but the Clunies-Ross family introduced its own currency in the 1870s as well. Denominations of Cocos Rupees, including this 1902 1/10 Rupee, were given to hired Cocos Malay workers around the island and were only redeemable at the company store.
|Keeling Cocos / British Administration 1902 1/10 Rupee graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQClick images to enlarge.|
Senegal / French Administration 1917 0.50 Franc
The Senegal / French Administration 0.50 Franc is an example of emergency fractional currency issued during World War I. As inflation grew during the war, French coinage was hoarded for its gold and silver content, making it difficult for merchants to complete transactions with smaller denominations. As a result, the Banque de France issued fractional currency to keep the economy going until inflation smoothed out. These notes were eventually replaced by the bronze-plated aluminum “Jetons” due to their poor quality.
|Senegal / French Administration 1917 0.50 Franc graded PMG 58 Choice About UncirculatedClick images to enlarge.|
Réunion 1917 5 Centimes
World War I caused many financial shortages. Réunion Island, a French colony during World War I, was another location to face financial hardship. To ensure the stability of Réunion’s economy, France issued a two-note emergency fractional currency series. One of these notes included this Réunion, Banque de la Réunion ND (1917) 5 Centimes. At 1.97 inches by 1.26 inches, it is the smallest note on our list!
|Réunion, Banque de la Réunion ND (1917) 5 Centimes graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQClick images to enlarge.|
Morocco, Protectorat de la France 1919 50 Centimes
Morocco, like Réunion, was under France’s control during World War I. Also, like Réunion, Morocco faced a coin shortage and financial instability in the aftermath of World War I. To combat this, France issued a series of emergency notes, including this Morocco, Protectorat de la France 50 Centimes note. This four-note series was issued on cardstock and remained in circulation for less than a year.
|Morocco, Protectorat de la France 1919 50 Centimes graded PMG 58 Choice About Uncirculated EPQClick images to enlarge.|
Monaco, Principauté de Monaco 1920 25 Centimes
Monaco is an independent country, though it is heavily influenced by France, which borders it. During World War I, like most other countries either under the control or influence of France, Monaco experienced a coin shortage and received an emergency issuance of fractional notes. Interestingly, these fractional currency notes from the 1920s, like this 1920 25 centimes, are the only Monégasque banknotes to have circulated in Monaco.
Liechtenstein (1920) 20 Heller
Officially known as the Principality of Liechtenstein, the small German-speaking state is bordered by Switzerland and Austria. It is Europe’s fourth-smallest country, and its banknotes match its diminutive size. Only three emergency issues of banknotes — including this 1920 20 Heller — have ever been issued. No other banknotes have circulated within Liechtenstein. Instead of banknotes, the country relies on franc coins.
|Liechtenstein, Duchy of Liechtenstein ND (1920) 20 Heller graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated EPQClick images to enlarge.|
Chile, Banco Central 1942 1 Peso = 1/10 Condor
The Central Bank of Chile was established in 1925 under the government of President Arturo Alessandri, who set out to restructure Chile’s financial system. As part of the restructuring, the official monetary unit in Chile became the Peso. To help consumers understand the new denominations, notes were printed with denomination values.
This 1 Peso = 1/10 Condor note was issued because of inflation. Inflation left fractional coins in disuse until a law was passed that required consumers to pay debts in full pesos. The 1942 1 Pesos = 1/10 Condor note was discontinued in 1943, but Chile’s other multiple denomination currency remained in circulation until 1960, when the Escudo temporarily replaced the Peso.
|Chile, Banco Central 1943 1 Peso = 1/10 Condor graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQClick images to enlarge.|
Hong Kong, Government of Hong Kong ND (1945) 1 Cent
During Japan’s occupancy of Hong Kong during World War II, the Hong Kong Dollar was outlawed and replaced with Japanese Military Yen. After Japan surrendered in 1945, the British Government Administration regained control of the economy in Hong Kong and reinstated Hong Kong currency, including the Hong Kong Dollar and fractional currency, including this Hong Kong 1 Cent note. The front of the note features a portrait of King George VI on the front and a blank back.
|Hong Kong, Government of Hong Kong ND (1945) 1 Cent graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQClick images to enlarge.|
Israel, Government Fractional Note ND (1952) 50 Pruta
In the 1950s, Israel’s Ministry of Finance issued emergency fractional currency — such as this 1952 50 Pruta — because the price of creating 50 Pruta coins out of the usual metal alloy was higher than the value of the coin itself. The currency was made of thin paper and only remained in circulation for 8 years before they were demonetized.
|Israel, Government Fractional Note ND (1952) 50 Pruta graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQClick images to enlarge.|
If these tiny notes inspired you, check out our other Collection Inspiration columns for more collecting ideas. Also, be sure to follow PMG on Facebook, PMG on Instagram and PMG on Twitter for articles and interesting notes posted daily.
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