Fractional currency 50 Cents Spinner 1863 Third Issue

United States Fractional currency 50 Cents Spinner
Fifty-cent Fractional Currency depicting Spinner, with autograph signature.

United States Fractional currency 50 Cents Third Issue

Reverse: Floral design - 50 - FIFTY CENTS.
Signatures: (as depicted) Stoddard Benham Colby, Register of the Treasury and Francis Elias Spinner, Treasurer of the United States.

Front Text: Act Approved March 3d 1863 – United States Fractional Currency – Receivable For All United States Stamps – Fifty – Furnished Only By The Assistant Treasurers And Designated Depositories of the United States – Treasury Department – Register – Treasurer – Eng. & Print At The Treasury

Back Text: This Note is Exchangeable for United States Notes By Assistant Treasurers And Designated Depositories Of The United States in the sums not less than Three Dollars. Receivable In Payment Of All Dues To The United States Less Than Five Dollars Except Customs. – Issued Under Act of March 3d 1863 – Engraved & Printed At The Treasury

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     

50 Cents Francis E. Spinner             50 Cents Justice

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.

Francis Elias Spinner, 10th Treasurer of the United States
Francis Elias Spinner (January 21, 1802 – December 31, 1890) was an American politician from New York. He was Treasurer of the United States from 1861 to 1875. He was the first administrator in the federal government to employ women for clerical jobs.

  His father was John Peter Spinner (born in Werbach, Baden, 18 January 1768; died in German Flatts, NY, 27 May 1848), a Catholic priest who became a Protestant, married Mary Magdalene Fidelis Brument, emigrated to the United States in 1801, and was pastor of two German-speaking Dutch Reformed churches, at Herkimer and German Flatts until his death.
  Francis Spinner was the eldest of nine children, six sons and three daughters. His father instructed him in languages, and in the common schools of Herkimer County he learned English grammar, reading, writing and arithmetic. His father required Spinner to learn a trade. Francis elected to become a merchant, and for about a year was employed as a clerk in a store. The store failed, and Francis was apprenticed to a confectioner in Albany.
  In Albany, Spinner made the acquaintance of some educated men who took an interest in his welfare. Peter Gansevoort allowed him the use of his library. Two years after his arrival, when his father found he was being employed as a salesman and bookkeeper, Spinner was removed from that situation and apprenticed to a saddle and harness maker in Amsterdam, New York. Here Spinner became a shareholder in the circulating library, and studied its volumes when he wasn't busy learning his trade.
  In 1824, Spinner moved back to Herkimer County, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits. In 1826, he married Caroline Caswell of Herkimer. He entered the state militia, and by 1834 had risen to the rank of major general. He was appointed deputy sheriff in 1829, and was sheriff of the County from 1834 to 1837. He was appointed one of the commissioners for the construction of the state lunatic asylum at Utica, New York in 1838. When he was removed from this post on political grounds, he engaged in banking, first as cashier and later as president, at the Mohawk Bank.
  He was state inspector of turnpikes, and served as commissioner and supervisor of schools. He was appointed auditor and deputy naval officer in charge of the Port of New York in 1845 and served four years.
  Spinner was elected as an anti-slavery Democrat to the 34th Congress. An active Republican from the formation of the party, he was re-elected as a Republican to the 35th and 36th United States Congresses, altogether serving from March 4, 1855, to March 3, 1861. He served on the Committee on Privileges and Elections, on a special committee to investigate the assault made by Preston Brooks on Charles Sumner, and on a conference committee of both houses on the Army appropriation bill, which the senate had rejected on account of a clause that forbade the use of the military against Kansas settlers. During his last term (36th Congress), he was chairman of the Committee on Accounts.
  On the recommendation of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, he was appointed by President Lincoln as Treasurer of the United States and served from March 16, 1861, until his resignation on July 1, 1875. Within 60 days of his assuming office, the expenditures of the federal government increased dramatically.
  He was the first to suggest the employment of women in government offices. During the Civil War, many of the clerks of the Treasury Department joined the army, and Spinner suggested to Secretary Chase the advisability of employing women. After much persuasion, his suggestion was taken up, and he carried it into effect successfully, though not without much opposition. The women were first employed to count money, and later took up various clerical duties. He eventually hired over 100 women, paid them well, and retained them after the war was over.
  He signed the different series of paper money in a singular handwriting, which he cultivated in order to prevent counterfeiting. His signature on the “greenbacks” of the United States was the most familiar autograph in the country. The history Spinner gave of his signature was:

“I first practiced it while in the sheriff's office about 1835; I used it while commissioner for building the asylum at Utica, and as cashier and president of the Mohawk valley bank, and for franking while in congress. It was brought to its highest perfection when I was treasurer.”

  He resigned his office because of a disagreement over staffing appointments. A new Secretary refused to give him final say over his staff. Spinner thought that, as a bonded officer, he should have control over the appointment of clerks for whose acts he was responsible. When he resigned his office, the money in the treasury was counted. The result showed a very small discrepancy, and many days were spent in recounting and examining the books of accounts, until finally the mistake was discovered.
  In 1875, he ran on the Republican ticket for New York State Comptroller but was defeated by Democrat Lucius Robinson. He moved south, and for some years he lived in camp at Pablo Beach, Florida, where he lived a vigorous outdoor life, and also took up the study of Greek. He was survived by one of his three daughters.
  He was buried at the Mohawk Cemetery, in Mohawk, New York. After his death, a group of women who worked in the Treasury Department contributed $10,000 for a monument which now stands in Myers Park in Herkimer.