Second Issue Fractional Currency

Widespread counterfeiting of the first issue of fractional currency (Postage Currency) led Spencer Morton Clark to state that in order to protect the public, a new issue was needed.  The second issue (sometimes referred to as the first issue of Fractional Currency) was released on October 10, 1863 and ended on February 23, 1867.  The total of all four denominations was 161,341,194 notes with a face value of $23,164,483.65. It was estimated that 27,567,597 notes were still extant in 1884. 

All second issue notes have the same front, a dock scene engraved by James Duthie with a portrait of George Washington in the center. The backs are uniform as well with an eagle on top of a shield, but of a different color; 5ȼ brown, 10ȼ dark green, 22ȼ dark purple and the 50ȼ were red.  A new anti-counterfeiting measure was also added, a bronze ring surrounding Washington’s portrait and large bronze skeletal denominational numerals on the back. They were the brainchild of Spencer Morton Clark, Superintendent of the BEP who stated “having seen all the attempts of the Scientific Commission to successfully remove it, successful removal without the additional removal of part of the design was never seen.”  The ring and numerals would actually be black and not show the under-printing if photographically reproduced and part of the design would be removed if an attempt to actually remove it.

Some regular and experimental notes have reverse surcharges in the back corners that probably denote different experiments. Many have an “18” in the bottom left corner and a “63” in the bottom right of the back.  Some then have no additional surcharges or a “1”, “2”, “R”, “S”, “T” or some combination. The 5, 10, and 25-cent regular issue notes also may not have any surcharges on the back. However, the 50ȼ with no bronze 18-63 surcharge on the back was never printed. There has never been an authentic example of this type seen and none are thought to exist.

This issue is the most varied issue due to the many experiments performed on both regular issue notes and “experimental” notes. Different glues, inks, papers and printing types were tested. This author has currently identified over 200 different experimental notes. Most are represented by less than five examples, but a few are more common with a couple having over 100 notes known. There are two main types of paper, regular banknote paper and a fiber paper. Experimentals may be uncancelled or have two half-moon cancels or three pie-wedge shaped cancels. 

Finally, the issue was the first to have the proofs used for counterfeit detection printed on paper watermarked CSA. This paper was from a captured blockade runner, the Bermuda. These notes and experimentals are almost all stamped SPECIMEN on the front or back.