Rare, uncut sheet of Revolutionary-era Rhode Island currency

State of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations / Printed by Hall and Sellers, [Uncut sheet of Rhode Island currency, including two complete sets of notes.] Philadelphia, 1780.
Broadsheet in black ink with red overprinting on special anti-counterfeiting laid paper with inlaid blue threads and mica flakes. Printed area 11 1/8”h x 15 1/8”w, 14”h x 17”w at sheet edge.

A beautiful uncut sheet of Revolutionary-era currency and a fine example of early American color printing.

During the American Revolution both the Continental Congress and the states issued paper currency. Offered here is a full- or double-sheet of Rhode Island paper notes printed in Philadelphia by Hall & Sellers, pursuant to an emission authorized by the state on July 2, 1780. The sheet bears two complete sets of the various denominations circulated during the war, including notes for $1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $7, $8 and $20. Normally, of course, such sheets were dissected and the notes put in circulation, so this uncut sheet in excellent condition is a rare and lovely survival.

In emitting these notes, the state was acting under the authority of a March 18, 1780 resolution of the Congress. This sought to put Continental paper money on a stronger footing by providing for the gradual retirement of badly depreciated “Continentals” then in circulation and their replacement with new ones paying interest and redeemable in hard currency. Hence, these Rhode Island notes promise redemption in “Spanish milled dollars”—at the time the most commonly circulated coin—and interest of five percent per annum.

The notes are printed on usual paper bearing a “CONFEDERATION” watermark and containing blue fibers and mica flakes, presumably an anti-counterfeiting measure. The recto of each note bears the denomination, serial number, terms of repayment and the signatures of A[dam] Comstock and C[aleb] Harris. Comstock (1740-1819) was a military officer and member of the Assembly representing Warwick. Harris (1739-1812?) represented Johnston and was probably the same Caleb Harris who served as United States Surveyor for Rhode Island from 1784 to 1786 and was later credited on A Map of the State of Rhode Island, taken mostly from Surveys By Caleb Harris (Providence, 1795). The verso of each note bears the phrase “United States” and various symbols printed in red and black—likely another anti-counterfeiting measure–along with a guarantee of payment “according to a resolution of Congress of the 18th of March, 1780.” This sheet is unusual for having never been cut or circulated.

A rare artifact of the Revolutionary era and a beautiful display piece.


Excellent untrimmed condition, with a single vertical centerfold.