Editor's note: The following is the third in a three-part series of
posts in Todd Sciore's All in the family feature from the
June monthly issue of Coin World.
Colonial currency was issued by the 13 Original Colonies and, like
its cousin Continental currency, it often carries the historically
noteworthy signatures of leading patriots, legislators, and military
commanders, interesting bits of Americana that harken back to the
formation of the United States.
The notes featured here are issues that were signed by Francis
Hopkinson and Col. Joseph Borden respectively.
The note signed by Hopkinson (along with Robert Strettell Jones and
William Fisher) is a Pennsylvania emission dated March 20, 1771, that
was for the initial purpose of defending the colony. However, a
portion of the funds ended up being used for street repairs and
grading. The issue was printed in several denominations by the firm of
David Hall & William Sellers in Philadelphia.
The New Jersey note was part of a joint credit emission with the
United States dated June 9, 1780, to replace older notes and was also
printed in several denominations by Hall and Sellers. The David
Brearley and Philemon Dickinson signatures, which are noteworthy in
their own right, appear on the face, while Joseph Borden’s signature
on behalf of the United States appears on the back.
These patriotic relatives both endorsed early American currency,
lending their good names and reputations to the legitimacy of the
respective notes. Despite Hopkinson’s ties to New Jersey, according to
longtime antiquarian-book collector and dealer Joseph Felcone,
documents signed by Hopkinson with a direct connection to the Garden
State are few and far between. Felcone does however, verify the
existence of at least one coveted piece of Hopkinson-signed Jerseyana
— a bill of exchange dated Oct. 30, 1780, from the Loan Office of the
United States. It was signed by Hopkinson in the capacity of treasurer
for the Continental Loan Office and, coincidentally, was countersigned
by Joseph Borden as commissioner of the Loan Office for New Jersey.