An exhibit spanning three centuries of money in North Carolina is on
display in Chapel Hill until Sept. 30, 2014.
The Art of North Carolina Money: The Stories
Behind the Symbols exhibit can be viewed at the North
Carolina Collection Gallery of the University of North Carolina’s
Wilson Library on the UNC campus.
The free exhibit displays more than 80 examples of money, tokens and
medals from North Carolina and other places, with the oldest item
being a handwritten £5 note from 1729 and the newest a 2009 PLENTY
note issued by the Piedmont Local Economy Tender and used in and
around Chapel Hill.
Unlike the Federal Reserve notes Americans use today, paper money of
America's early years carried no consistent designs. Multiple private
institutions, local governments and private individuals issued paper
scrip used as money.
“With so many different types of money in circulation, it was often
difficult to distinguish the good from the bad,” a library blog post reads. “Issuers quickly
learned that people were less suspicious of attractive objects than
plain ones, so they embellished the money with detailed pictorial
elements known as vignettes.”
Currency issued during the mid-1800s featured “imagery related to
agriculture and industry, but some bills issued by Southern states
leading up to the war, and later by the Confederate States of America,
showed scenes of seemingly contented slaves at work.”
The exhibit features examples of the engraver’s art including an
1857 $5 obsolete note issued by a Boston bank depicting Santa Claus on
a rooftop, and an 1837 note issued by the Manual Labor Bank in
Philadelphia seemingly depicting an Elvis Presley look-alike at work.
The exhibit draws on the extensive numismatic collection of the
North Carolina Collection Gallery.
For more information about the exhibit visit the UNC Libraries Visitor Information page for hours
and parking information.