History To-Go: Currency

Currency has existed for a long, long time and undergone many changes over the years. One of the earliest forms of ‘currency’ was trading and bartering items to get goods or services that they needed. American Indians, the first group to live on the land that is now North Carolina, used items like beads, shells, or beads made of shells as money. When European settlers arrived in the colony of North Carolina they continued to use British money called pounds, shillings, pence, or sterling. Oftentimes there weren’t enough British coins in circulation, so other types of currency like Spanish coins, Spanish dollars, and seashells were used too. During the American Revolution the colonies wanted to stop using British currency, so they had to develop something new. Each colony had their own money, and North Carolina’s was printed in New Bern and Wilmington. After the Revolutionary War, states no longer made their own money. A national currency was produced in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania instead. Private banks, however, were still allowed to make their own money. Paper money was more common than coins during this time because mines that produced gold and silver weren’t plentiful yet, but by the 1830s many gold mines were operating in North Carolina and supplying Mints with the metal needed for coins. By the 1860s, North Carolina had 36 banks. During the Civil War, the Confederacy allowed each Confederate state the freedom to create and print their own paper banknotes. This meant that the South had many different types of currency at once. By the end of the Civil War, Southern currencies were rapidly losing value, and many merchants began requiring people to use gold and silver to buy goods. A pair of shoes could cost a person as much as $600. Because of this, the country decided to nationalize all banks so that the same currency would be used throughout the country. Privately owned banks had to be issued a national charter to continue producing their own money. 147 banks in North Carolina were issued one of these. The National Bank of Charlotte was the state's first one.

August's "History To-Go" box features Currency! You can come by the museum starting Tuesday, August 1, 2023 to pick up a box (limit 2 per family). Limited supplies, so come early!  You can select the links below to access the box contents if you cannot get to the museum to pick yours up!

Thanks to funding from the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex Foundation Inc, and the Arts Council of Fayetteville we are offering FREE "History To-Go", take home craft kits. 

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