Mar 10, 2020 - Sale 2533

Sale 2533 - Lot 11

Price Realized: $ 618
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 600 - $ 900
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1777.) Manuscript for the detection of counterfeit Continental banknotes. Manuscript, 8 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches, with unrelated list of names on verso; quite worn with separations at folds and substantial loss, several short tape repairs. [Simsbury, CT?], circa 1777

Additional Details

With the rapid rise of paper currency during the American Revolution, counterfeits soon came into the market, and with them an ever-increasing concern about counterfeits. Merchants did their best to determine whether they were looking at a real or fake bill, but America still awaited the arrival of printed counterfeit detectors. Into the breach, somebody made a careful study of the 20 May 1777 issue of notes, and found several discrepancies. The author had decided that examples with broken type in six places were authentic, while those with well-formed letters were fake. They are here written out in graphic form.
Unfortunately, these observations were incorrect. Sometimes a piece of type will just break, especially given the crude printing facilities at the disposal of the Continental Congress. An official broadside titled "Description of Counterfeit Bills" specifically addresses these concerns: "Some Persons in the United States having been much alarmed on comparing of Bills of Credit . . . some having broken Letters and others not, and frequent Conclusions having been drawn that the former were true Bills, and the broken Letters were originally made as private or secret Marks: It is therefore become necessary to inform, That those were not intended as Marks, but that at the first Beginning of printing an Emission the Letters were whole, and that during printing the Emission, from hard Lumps or Gravel or Sand in the Paper, with the Force of the Press, those Letters at different Times were accidentally and unobservedly broken." In other words, please ignore the manuscript we offer here! It is the equivalent of a viral paranoid Facebook post from 1777.
On verso is a list of 37 men's names, possibly a tax or militia list. Several of the more unusual names such as Andrew Hillyer, Fithan Case, and Uriah Case turn up in Simsbury, CT during the revolutionary era.