Fractional Currency 5 Cents 1863 Third Issue Spencer M. Clark

Fractional Currency 5 Cents Spencer Clark
March 3, 1863 Five Cents Fractional Currency
US Fractional Currency 5 Cents Third Issue

United States Fractional currency 5 Cents 1863 Third Issue, Spencer M. Clark
United States Fractional Currency

Reverse: Red reverse.
Signatures: (as depicted) Stoddard Benham Colby, Register of the Treasury and Francis Elias Spinner, Treasurer of the United States.

Front Text: Act of March 3d 1863 – United States Fractional Currency Five Cents – Receivable For All U.S. Stamps Furnished Only by the Assistant Treasurers And Designated Depositories of the United States – Regr – Treasr – Engraved and Printed at the Treasury Department

Back Text: Exchangeable for United States Notes By Assistant Treasurers & Designated Depositories Of The United States in the sums not less than Three Dolls. Receivable In Payment Of All Dues To The United States Less Than Five Dollars Except Customs.

Fractional Faux Pas
In 1864, Congress authorized the issuance of a series of fractional currency notes in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50 cents, with Clark’s office being given responsibility for production of the notes.
  A firestorm ensued when it was discovered that Clark's image had been put on the 5-cent note. There are a couple of different versions of how this occurred.
  In one, the 5-cent note was supposed to bear a portrait of “Clark,” as in explorer William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame. But because no one had distinctly specified exactly which Clark, the currency superintendent took it upon himself to put his own portrait on the bills.
  In another version, Clark ordered that the portrait of Francis E. Spinner, treasurer of the United States, be placed on the 50-cent note without consulting him. Spinner was pleased with it, and as he had authority to select portraits on new notes, approved it. Other designs were selected at random and when it came to issuing the 5-cent note, Spinner was asked whose portrait was to be selected.
  Clark is said to have replied, “How would the likeness of Clark do?” “Excellent,” said Spinner, thinking that reference was made to Freeman Clark, the Comptroller of the Currency. The matter escaped further notice until the notes had been printed in enormous quantities.
    Whatever the story, Congress was outraged when the notes, which had already been mass-produced, came out. According to numismatic historian Walter Breen, Congress’s “immediate infuriated response was to pass a law retiring the 5¢ denomination, and another to forbid portrayal of any living person on federal coins or currency.”
Clark only kept his job because of the personal intervention of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase.
    Clark resigned from the National Currency Bureau in 1868 amidst a congressional investigation into record-keeping and security within the agency. He went on to work at the Department of Agriculture in the Statistical Division. He later headed the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the Agriculture Department until his death in 1890. He is buried in Hartford, Connecticut.

United States Fractional Currency
  The average person is surprised and somewhat incredulous when informed that there is such a thing as a genuine American 50 Cent bill, or even a 3 cent bill. With the great profusion of change in the pockets and purses of the last few generations, it does indeed seem strange to learn of valid United States paper money of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50 Cent denominations.
  Yet it was not always so. During the early years of the Civil War, the banks suspended specie payments, an act which had the effect of putting a premium on all coins. Under such conditions, coins of all denominations were jealously guarded and hoarded and soon all but disappeared from circulation.
  This was an intolerable situation since it became impossible for merchants to give small change to their customers. For a time, traders reverted somewhat to the ancient barter system and one had to accept his change in the form of goods or produce which he did not necessarily want at that time.
  The lives of millions of people were thus intimately affected and insistent demands were made on the Treasury Department to remedy this chaotic state of affairs.
  Accordingly, on the recommendation of General Francis E. Spinner who at that time was the Treasurer, Congress passed the Act of July 17, 1862 which authorized an issue of 5, 10, 25, and 50 Cent notes. These became known as Postage Currency, because they bore facsimiles of the then current 5 and 10 Cent postage stamps. This was the first of five issues produced by the government from 1862 to 1876. The later issues were called Fractional Currency, and were authorized by another act of Congress, that of March 3, 1863. In general, all issues of Postage and Fractional Currency were receivable for all United States Postage Stamps.
  In the fourteen years that Fractional Currency was produced, nearly 369 million dollars of it was issued. Finally, Congress passed the Acts of January 14, 1875 and April 17, 1876 which authorized the redemption of Fractional Currency in actual silver coins. It is now estimated by the government that not quite 2 million dollars in all types of Fractional Currency is still outstanding.

First Issue. August 21, 1862 to May 27, 1863
  This is the so-called Postage Currency. The issue consisted of 5, 10, 25 and 50 Cent notes. The face and backs of the notes were originally printed by the National Bank Note Company of New York. Later to increase security, the government had the backs printed by the American Bank Note Company of New York, who added the “ABN” monogram to the lower right comer of the back. Both companies produced both perforated and straight edge versions of the notes. The eight notes of this issue are widely collected by stamp collectors in addition to being collected by numismatists.
  The obligation on these is as follows, “Exchangeable for United States Notes by any Assistant Treasurer or designated U.S. Depositary in sums not less than five dollars. Receivable in payments of all dues to the U. States less than five Dollars.”

5 Cents - One 5-cent postage stamp Thomas Jefferson

10 Cents - One 10-cent postage stamp George Washington

25 Cents - Five 5-cent postage stamps Thomas Jefferson

Second Issue. October 10, 1863 to February 23, 1867
  This issue consisted of 5, 10, 25, and 50 Cent notes. The obverses of all denominations have the bust of Washington in a bronze oval frame but each reverse is distinguished by a different color.
  The obligation on this issue differs slightly, and is as follows, “Exchangeable for United States Notes by the Assistant Treasurers and designated depositaries of the U.S. in sums not less than three dollars. Receivable in payment of all dues to the United States less than five dollars except customs.”

5 Cents George Washington         10 Cents George Washington         25 Cents George Washington

50 Cents George Washington

Third Issue. December 5, 1864 to August 16, 1869
  This issue consisted of 3, 5, 10, 25 and 50 Cent Notes. Each denomination is of a different design, as will be seen in the text.
  The obligation on the Third Issue Notes is similar to that on the Second Issue.

3 Cents George Washington          5 Cents Spencer M. Clark          10 Cents George Washington     

15 Cents Ulysses S. Grant & William Tecumseh Sherman       25 Cents William P. Fessenden     

Fourth Issue. July 14, 1869 to February 16, 1875

  The notes of this issue consist of the 10, 15, 25 and 50 Cent denominations, each of a different design. With this issue, the Treasury Seal appears for the first time on the Fractional Currency.
  The 15 cent notes appeared only in this issue and they are much scarcer than the other denominations. The obligation on the fourth issue is similar to that on the Second Issue.

50 Cents Abraham Lincoln          50 Cents Samuel Dexter          50 Cents Edwin Stanton

Fifth Issue. February 26, 1874 to February 15, 1876

The notes of this issue consist only of 10, 25 and 50 cent denominations, each of a different design.
  The obligation is similar to that of the Second Issue.

Spencer M. Clark, First Superintendent of the National Currency Bureau (now the Bureau of Engraving and Printing)
Spencer M. Clark (June 3, 1811  – December 10, 1890) was the first Superintendent of the National Currency Bureau, today known as the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, from 1862 to 1868.
Spencer Morton Clark was born in Vermont and was involved in a variety of business activities until 1856 when he became a clerk in the Bureau of Construction of the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. According to a history of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, Clark became interested in the work of finishing new currency notes at the Treasury and gradually assumed increasingly greater responsibilities in the engraving, printing, and processing of U.S. Government currency and securities. He was a strong advocate for a distinct bureau within the Treasury Department for the production of currency and securities, and took over as the first Superintendent of the National Currency Bureau in 1862.
On August 29, 1862, Clark commenced work with one male assistant and four female operatives, according to a 1977 Washington Post article. Clark is said to have developed the original "Treasury Seal," a variation of which still appears on U.S. notes, according to a 1979 Washington Post article. Clark is also credited with proposing that facsimile signatures for the Treasurer of the United States and the Register of the Treasury be imprinted on U.S. notes using a "peculiar process and with peculiar ink." Prior to that, the signatures were penned by an army of clerks "For the" appropriate official, the Post article added.