PMG Registry Set Showcase: Much Less Than a Dollar

Posted: 1/3/2010

This month we look at a very popular category of Fractional Currency notes, the smallest denomination notes.

Last month’s Registry article was focused on the $100 Federal Reserve Note, the largest denomination bill currently issued. This month, we look at the opposite end of the spectrum, the smallest denomination notes ever issued, Fractional Currency.

First issued in 1862 to alleviate coinage shortages during the Civil War and circulating until 1876, these notes were issued in denominations from 3 cents to 50 cents. Fraction currency was printed in a variety of designs in five distinct series. A very popular way to collect these notes is to buy one note in every denomination from each of the five series, or a total of 20 different notes. This describes the requirements of the Fractional Currency Complete Type Set in the PMG Registry.

To date, 29 different sets are competing in the Complete Type Set, making it the most popular Fractional Currency Category. Of those sets, six are 100 percent complete, and three more are at least 90 percent complete. There are a number of devoted and active collectors of this series. Here, however, the effort of one collector outshines the rest; Paragon Collection occupies the number 1, 2 and 4 spots with three different sets. Wow! Paragon Collection 2, the top ranking set, includes one of each of these notes in at least 64 EPQ, with ten 67 EPQs and a 68 EPQ. Double wow! Of nearly 11,500 Fractionals graded by PMG, only eight are 68 EPQ (with just two higher). Incredibly, another one of these 68s appears in Paragon Collection Set 14, and a third in Paragon Collection 15.

These notes are very fun to look at, but unfortunately few sets include images. Collector sdbill has provided images of his note in Fractional Currency. And a few more are shown in kbsig106’s kbsig106 Fractional Collection. Both include some examples from the First Issue, which feature depictions of postage stamps then in use — they were even redeemable for postage stamps. Sometimes this first series is referred to as Postage Currency, and it’s also collected by stamp collectors, not just currency enthusiasts. Hopefully, more of the collectors participating in the Registry will add images to their sets.

The PMG Registry is the ultimate online showcase of currency collections, and there are a number of different options for collectors of Fractionals. Many collectors of Fractional Currency also collect specimen notes. These notes are not eligible for the Competitive Registry, but there is a Signature Set category specifically for Specimen Fractional Currency.

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