This article from Arkansas discusses Wesley Smith's traveling exhibit of U.S. fractional currency.
For some coin collectors, it’s the peace silver dollar. For others, it may be the wheat penny or the buffalo nickel. But for Conway numismatist Wesley Smith, it’s the fractional currency of the Civil War era that sparks his interest.
Smith wants to share his U.S. Fractional Currency Series collection with the public and has set up an exhibit at the Faulkner County Library, 1900 Tyler St. in Conway. The exhibit will continue through Saturday.
Smith said the U.S. Treasury first issued fractional-currency notes in 1862 as a way to alleviate a coin shortage caused by Americans hoarding everyday staples and supplies, including coins, during the Civil War. These paper notes, which were printed in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50 cents, were used to make small change in the absence of coins until 1876.
Smith, who is self-employed, said his current collection, which also includes some early coins from 1792, took three years to assemble. The piece de resistance in his collection is a 15-cent note that bears the images of Civil War Gens. Grant and Sherman.
Smith said 9,000 of the Grant-Sherman notes were printed but never circulated. However, in his exhibit, he tells “The Story of the Midnight Ride,” in which a select few of these notes were taken and circulated. Smith believes he has a note that was circulated.
“This exhibit is for the people,” Smith said.
In his exhibit, Smith asks those viewing the panels of currency to take a survey. He also has printed materials available to help the viewers as they move from panel to panel.
From the Faulkner County Library, Smith hopes to take his exhibit on tour, eventually ending at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. He hopes to include several stops along the way, including the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, the Lincoln Museum in Hodgenville, Ky., and the Lincoln Memorial University and Museum in Harrogate, Tenn. He said he pays respect to Lincoln since he was president during the time the Fractional Currency Series was put in place.
Could one of our Fractional Currency specialists fill us in on the "Midnight Ride" story?
To read the complete article, see:
Coin collector displays fractional-currency exhibit at library
Wayne Homren, Editor
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